Welcome to the premier issue of Astitva, a newsletter created to educate, encourage and empower South Asian Women. We want to reach out to the women in our community who are striving to grow and become more of who they were meant to be. My story is a familiar one. I was born and raised in a small village in India and moved to Canada when I was about fourteen years old. I met my husband when I was eighteen and got married shortly thereafter. My household is a typical household of joint families, as my in laws have lived with us for the past sixteen years. I have also attended university and completed my Bachelors in Administration in Entrepreneurial Leadership. Given all the changes, I went through in my twenty’s, at times I had no idea who I was. I went from a daughter, a sister to being a wife, daughter in law and mother, and I still chose to have a career. At some point, I started to ask who am I outside of these roles and what is my identity? In answering these questions for myself, I felt there was a value in sharing my experiences (and the experience of others like me). In our community, we grow up thinking that a lot of problems women face are caused by men, but in my experience, most of our pain and suffering is caused by other women. When my daughter was born, I would look at her with desires and hopes of what I wanted her to be when she grows up. Eventually I realized a bitter truth: how could I empower my daughter to face certain fears when she gets older, if I cannot do it myself? This single question never stopped coming to mind and I started to accept that I was living a life based on what others think I should be. If I was planning on being my daughter’s role model, I needed to be a role model who was true to herself. The judgement of others could not and should not define who I am. This is not easy to do; it’s an ongoing process. Some days I am successful in being true to myself and some days I am not as successful. I truly urge all readers to start considering the following: how much of your choices are based on fear of what others will think of you? How much of what you do is defined by the needs of others rather than your own needs. What decisions can you begin making that are true to who you are and what you want? I came across a quote I wanted to share. Gail Sheehy once wrote, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a
Temporary surrender of security.”
The above article was written by my client, where she wants to share her experiences with other women, and provide a network of support for women. There are article at end of this essay attached (Astitva/Identity). The client is born and raised in India. The client moved to Richmond, BC at the age of fourteen. The client grew up with various cultural values, beliefs and limitations. She grew up with beliefs and values that an Indo Canadian woman, she has to sacrifice her goals and dreams for the sake of her family. She graduated from high school in Richmond, BC then continue to study at Simon Fraser University, however, finished Bachelors in Business from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2007. The client got married at the age of twenty which was introduced marriage by her family. It was a cultural expectation on the client to be married at younger age. The client met her husband at the age of eighteen. She wanted to become a police officer, for which I believe she did not receive the support from her fiancé at the time, also she realized that this is not what she aspires to be. The client had her first child at the age of twenty five, she started her bachelors after the birth of her son. At the age of twenty eight she had her second child, her daughter, it was after her daughter’s birth she completed her degree.
The client has a young family with two children aged twelve and nine. Her husband is self-employed, who works long hours throughout the week and weekend. The client has both of her children involved in various sports activities, which take up a lot of time as well. Being an Indo Canadian woman, she has many other restrictions, expectations and commitments which the client finds restricting towards her career development and her aspirations in life. The client has a great passion towards helping women, her motive in life is to educate, empower and encourage women. The client started a newsletter called Astitva (Identity) to help women become aware and self-connected. She wants Astitva to become a nonprofit organization, she also wants to complete her Masters in Counselling Psychology to become a counsellor. Through the nonprofit she wants to provide emotional, physical, spiritual and mental support for women of various cultures and religions. The client finds this challenging venture due to her restrictions as an Indo Canadian woman.