The Path to Women’s Empowerment

A person that I will never take for granted is my 76-year-old grandma, Lika, the most selfless and independent person I know. To begin with, she was an orphan at the age of 12 due to the death of both her parents in a car accident. She was the oldest in her family and had two younger siblings and so she had to take leadership and the role of parenting. Seemingly, she dropped out of school to help take care of the needs of her family. At the age of 15, she got married and immigrated from Yemen to America to find a job and a better life for her family.  She later found out her husband was very abusive, but luckily he worked on a ship and traveled overseas a lot, so he was gone for months at a time. When she first arrived in Dearborn, Michigan, she lived in a small apartment and spoke only Arabic. At the age of 17, she had my dad and started to learn how to drive and speak English on her own. 

Her husband used to come off the ship from time to time and would barely provide for his family. She provided income by cleaning houses and babysitting people’s kids, usually a family of three to four. Later in life, she had four more kids and finally gained her citizenship. Her husband went to jail and all the money she saved up was spent on bailing her husband. Soon after, 30 years of a toxic marriage, she divorced him and with the money she got from the government and bought a house. Throughout her whole life, she’s been sacrificing to provide for her family. She worked extra hard as an immigrant while being a single mother and never complaining, just doing. It was very stressful because she was all by herself and had no one to depend on, which I think most people tend to underestimate.

While growing up with my grandma I learned many things from her. For example, I learned to never depend on others and make something of myself. She always told me that with patience comes many great things in life and to always have faith in God because he has a plan for me. She will always be my inspiration in life. She showed me it’s important to build a life for myself before ever thinking about getting married. Almost every year, at some point during the month of March, my family conducts a get-together talk about our past stories and experiences with hardship, and to show our appreciation for one another. When my grandma tells me stories about her life, her experiences, and her hardships, it motivates me to become better and make a change. It also inspires me to make my own dent in the universe. 

This month reminds me of how my grandma struggled for a better future for herself and her children. She paved a way that led generations for the better.  Knowing her hardships, my goal is to help women that go through the same thing especially in Arab countries where women’s rights aren’t really developed. To help advocate for women’s equality for single mothers, domestic abuse victims, and women who are struggling in life. Overall, Women’s History Month is something that I hold close to my heart and I will continue to recognize it as a time to appreciate and celebrate women.