Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Suabayreen, I am a new practicum student working for the Get Assistance team at the Women’s Centre. I am a final year Bachelor of Social Work student at the University of Calgary. I had my previous degree and work experiences in Business Administration. There came a time when I finally decided to listen to my heart and pursue a profession that I am passionate about. So I took the first step and enrolled in the BSW program. Since then I am completely in love with this profession. I genuinely believe that social work is not only a profession, it’s a lifestyle. To be able to call myself a social worker, first I need to implant the essence of social work in my heart. I need to reflect the values in my personal and professional life in all my activities every day.
I live in Calgary with my husband and two children. My two beautiful daughters and my husband have been a huge source of strength for me. Their love and support keep me going every day despite the obstacles. I love long drives, especially when it’s raining. I love movie time with my family.
What is your personal definition of feminism?
Feminism to me is liberation. Liberation from the subtle patriarchal social systems. Liberation from the invisible chains that bind women from progressing profoundly, exploring their options, enjoying equal rights and benefits; and, ultimately depriving them from fully living their lives. Feminism to me is having the right to be myself and not be judged about it. Is it to empower myself with a feminist lens which enables me to see and analyze the unrecognized realities women face everyday. From my experience, I have seen that much of the discrimination and oppression that women face are often subtle, untold and socially ignored. I believe the patriarchal social system has normalized these inequality infused practices, perhaps with the veil of traditional values and norms. To me, it appears as a manipulative strategy to weaken social consciousness and awareness on gender issues. I think it justifies the legacy of sexism with philanthropic intention of protecting women, assuming that women are weak and need protection. For a fact, I have seen how this so-called protection spirit indeed dis-empowers women, perpetuates discrimination and suppresses their rights. Therefore, feminism to me is to identify, understand and intervene these manipulative systems that are taking place from generations to generations.
Feminism to me is also upholding the dignity of women. It is by no means to claim our gender superiority over others. To me, it simply means reflecting the dignity of female gender through our belief system, our thinking process and most importantly by our actions. And appreciating the roles, contributions and sacrifices of each and every woman. It is to celebrate our beauties and qualities with utmost respect and dignity.
What brought you to the Women’s Centre of Calgary?
I always wanted to work with women and for the women. Seeing my passion in this field the Director of my BSW program recommended the Women’s Centre to me. Once I did my research on the Women’s Centre, I was very much fascinated by its vision and values. It felt like finally I found the one place that reflects my own personal values and worldviews. It’s a place where no one has power over another, everyone works collaboratively and has genuine respect for each other. When I first entered the place, I really couldn’t figure out who is working there and who is visiting. Which I think greatly promotes dignity for the service receivers. It felt like the Women’s Centre doesn’t only talk about women empowerment, it also lives by its words. Since then I am a genuine fan of this place.
What’s one thing you hope to learn at the Women’s Centre?
One of the things I love about the Women’s Centre is that all their programs and activities are based on the Community Capacity Building Peer Model. I found that the CCBPM operates at all three levels of social intervention. Through the Get Assistance programs, it focuses on the micro level issues and barriers that women face in their daily lives and works for their immediate needs. Through the Connect With Other programs, it strives to empower women by connecting them to sustainable sources in the community, which highly promotes social inclusion, support and self-esteem. That’s how it carefully considers and operates on the mezzo level community issues. It also goes one step further by critically intervening at the policy or macro level gaps through the Work For Change program. To me, it means that the Women’s Centre of Calgary not only empowers women on the individual level, by working for positive and sustainable changes it tries to make sure tomorrow is a better place for the next generation of women. Through all these endeavors, it tries to make sure that justice for women is ensured at each level.
Having the deliberation of becoming an informed generalist social worker, I look forward to the various ways to learning about the Community Capacity Building Peer Model. I wish to dedicate myself in practicing and reflecting on the various roles that I can play within the setting of this model. My ultimate vision is to learn from all the women in the Women’s Centre (service users, volunteers and staff members) and give back to them in any way possible.
Describe a woman who you admire or who has influenced your life.
The woman who motivated me to understand the beauty, capacity and strength of women is my grandmother. She was a living example of women empowerment. In her time, when many Asian women weren’t even allowed to go to elementary school, she had the courage to go against the discriminating, traditional norms and achieve a double masters all by herself. She was a teacher, a humanitarian and an activist. My grandmother groomed my mother to be a strong and confident woman in life which then empowered her to become one of the first women District Judges in the country. The empowering traditions persisted. Although my grandmother is no more in this world, I will be ever grateful to her for planting the seed of love, hope, courage and passion into the hearts of the women in our family.