Growing up in Asia, it’s a very common notion that women don’t have to pursue education too high as they will end up being ‘in the kitchen’ anyway. This stereotype comes due to the long history of women being oppressed, told to become submissive to a male role (a father or a husband) and limited in access to education and career.
Of course, today’s modern lifestyle has shifted that notion because we can see the growing number of career women and working mothers. However, that notion hasn’t really gone.
Women are now encouraged to pursue higher degrees. But for some families, education is still seen as an achievement that will enhance the quality of a woman. The higher her quality, the more chance she gets to marry an ideal bachelor.
Well, that’s another story. What we’re trying to focus here is the need to correct any misleading reasons for women to get a good education.
Most women will become and dream of being a mother. Someone contributes a large amount of influence in her child’s life. As she will be more dominant in terms of daily parenting than the husband, she will set the first base of her child’s development. Supposedly it’s a job for both parents, but let’s face it, women are still dominant in childcare because naturally, a child has biological needs that are related to the mother, such as breastfeeding (aside from the fact that ‘childcare’ comes with the stereotype of ‘women belong in the kitchen’).
All in all, she will be the first educator in her child’s earliest life.
Education is key to social change and advantages for a child. If not set right at the beginning, it will be a heavy homework both for the parents, the child and future educators to reshape the child’s way of thinking. It is one of the most critical areas for a child.
Here, ‘education’ is beyond academics or visible achievement. ‘Education’ from a mother to her child refers to how the mother instils the first template of a way of thinking for the child and how the child takes her mother as a role model.
Like a blank canvas, a child will automatically take on whoever is closest to become his or her model. It could be the parents, siblings or even a cartoon character. But most of the times (considering the biological needs of a child and the childcare stereotype which makes most women stay at home after having a child) the mother is the closest human model for a child, so it is only natural that the child would imitate her.
Thus, having a well-educated mother is more important than ever. If the mother is well-educated and has proven to be an example of how she wishes her child would grow up to be, it is more likely that her children will be empowered to lead a life like a mother’s successful one. ‘Success’ here is not only measured by financial success but also self-satisfactory, being a social creature and having a healthy relationship with the child.
Besides, a well-educated mother will be able to more appropriately give cognitively stimulating activities to her child, which is important for the child’s development. Also, they will be more open to and constantly seek for valid knowledge and information on how to reach her child’s maximum potential; physically, mentally and even spiritually.
Most importantly, the mother’s education will improve her relationship with her child. She will be more likely to respect her children, not bound by negative conventional notions about bringing up a child, and have more control over them in a positive manner.
For example, it is children’s natural instinct to be constantly curious in their early years as their brain is rapidly developing to grasp an understanding of the world around them. Simply said, they have endless questions. And who’s the closest adult is there for them to ask? The mother.
We’ve all heard childhood stories where the mother either shuts her child up with fear or illogical reasoning. “If you keep doing that, the police will take you away,” or “The ghosts will come out if you keep making noise.”
We can’t deny the effectiveness of these answers. It instantly makes the child more in order (weren’t you afraid of lady ghosts coming up to your bed at night?) and well-mannered. However, these type of closed answers will reduce the child’s ability for critical thinking, which is important for them in their later life.
Women’s education will not be a waste. Instead, it is crucial. Mothers not only give birth but also shape the new generation.
Everyone of all genders should be able to have access to education. One of our community, Yayasan Mata Air, is aiming to reduce the inability of accessing higher education. Read their full story here.