Gender Equality Begins With Me
My name is Kaman Kwok. I am a US Canadian tax consultant. I emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada 20 years ago. Over the last 20 years, I have worked really hard to prove that I am successful. I recognize my own value. As an Asian woman living in this male dominant society, I have struggled.
I grew up in the eldest child in a big family. I have four sisters and two brothers. My parents are very traditional Chinese parents who truly believe boys are more valuable than girls. Boys are considered to be a very important asset in the Chinese community. Having boys allowed them to show off and to gain status. Growing up a girl in this environment was very difficult. I did everything I could to please my parents to show that I was a good daughter. But no matter how hard I tried, I failed in their eyes.
I wanted to run away from my family as soon as I could. When I was 23, I married my Prince Charming. A year later, I got pregnant. When I found out the baby was indeed a girl, my heart sank and I broke into tears. I knew she was going to suffer the same way I did, just because she was not a boy. My mother did not talk to me for 3 years after I had my daughter. She only began speaking to me when I had my second child who was a boy.
Ten months ago, (almost 16 years after the birth of my daughter) I attended Dov Baron’s Authentic Speaker Academy for Leadership – Boot Camp 1. I was asked to share a shameful story. At that moment, I realized I had treated my daughter exactly the same way my parents had treated me. I was mad at my parents and myself. I had suffered my whole life, fighting for equality to prove my self- worth. I struggled my whole life trying to prove I was as valuable as a boy. I made my daughter suffer and struggled the same way my family caused me to do. We are following the same patterns of behavior as our parents. We are devaluing our daughters!
Why? Why do we Chinese need to believe boys are more valuable than girls? Boys are not more valuable! We are all equal. This must end and this must end now. We, Asian women, are as valuable as men.
After the boot camp, I kept asking myself what must I do to remove this learned conditioning and belief? In order for me to stop copying what my mom did, I have made the decision to distance myself from my mother. I am now living the life that I want. I no longer measure my own value and success based on how much money I make. This was the measurement my mother had imposed on me. I now surround myself with like-minded and supportive individuals who allow my real personality to shine. I reclaimed my power to become the leader of my own life. I no longer want to blindly follow instructions.
You may wonder if it’s too late for you to change. No! I will tell you it’s never too late to change. What really matters? I have come to believe my change has an impact on the people around me. And now, is better than ever! We women are as valuable as men.
Now, I am taking an ownership and leadership role to create change. I treat myself more respectfully. I honor and cherish the relationship with my beautiful daughter, Elvina. Instead of asking her how’s school, now I ask her how she is feeling? What made you happy today? Don’t get me wrong, she found me really weird at the beginning. Maybe still, I don’t know. But now, I am proudly setting an example for my daughter, son, future grandchildren, and for generations of women to come that women are as valuable as men.
If we can get women to remove the traditional belief that women have no value, they will begin to recognize their own intrinsic worth. If we can get society to stop promoting the belief, men are more valuable and successful than women than both men and women can have a more equal and respectful relationship. We will be able to share and speak equally and openly when these beliefs are no longer passed down from generation to generation.
Multi-generational transmission of beliefs devaluing women does not only apply to the Asian culture. It is prevalent in all cultures. We can be part of the solution and stop the transmission of negative multigenerational beliefs. Stand up and be a leader in your own life. What are you waiting for? The time is NOW.
This multi-generational belief does not apply only to the Asian culture, this, shows up through ALL cultures. Be a part of the solution and stop this multi-generational belief. Stand up and be a leader of your own life.
So what are you waiting for? The time is NOW.
Graduate of Dov Baron’s Authentic Speaker Academy for Leadership 2014
Recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Transformation