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#Choosethechallenge – Breaking Traditional Societal Norms

By Medha Saraiya

March 2, 2021

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Challenges are a part of life, but at times, those challenges are magnified based on your gender, race and/or color. Growing up in a traditional South Asian family, I was reminded numerous times about my gender and its role in society. As a child, I was trained to do domestic chores and reminded that I needed to know these to be a good wife, daughter-in-law, mother and home maker. Being independent, career focused and self-reliable was never part of that training.

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When I grew up and got married, there were reminders constantly that the priority for a woman should be her family. To this day, I get questioned about using my maiden’s name, or about how my daughter’s middle name should be her father’s, and not mine.

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As an entrepreneur and professional, I have come across many individuals, mainly from the opposite gender, that have said to me often in a patronizing tone, ‘I know what’s better for you and your company’ or ‘You don’t know what you are doing, I can help you. It is always astounding that these people can say such things when we’ve only just met or may be acquaintances. I have the urge to respond by saying “You don’t know me well enough to know what I want. If you don’t know me, how can you know what I want?”

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I have witnessed discrimination in various settings whether it be based on gender, race, color, or all of the above in all healthcare settings, both by clients and professionals. It is important to know that these things aren’t just said to those in a visible minority group. It is also said to those breaking traditional stigmas, such as male nurses or male PSW’s. I #choosethechallange to break some of these biases and discrimination.

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