Are expectations on women in our community evolving? And will some things never change? By Alima Nadeem

Women in the Asian community often find themselves under pressure with all the expectations placed on them.

From finding a spouse, to maintaining the family traditions, a number of women speak about the expectations placed on them growing up and to challenge it today.


Women are often told by their families that education is the most important thing and are encouraged to do well, but sometimes this is contradicted by the pressure of marriage afterwards.

MA Law student Arub Syed, of Birmingham, said she was grateful for the pressure as it helped her succeed, but did not like the marriage pressure.

She said: “We were told we had to study hard in order to succeed. The pressure was insane, but I feel so grateful, if it wasn’t for the pressure I’d be nowhere.

“But, what’s weird is that after studies, marriage instantly appears on the cards. Once we get a degree we’re expected to marry. 

“All that independence we learnt basically goes to crap because now we’re just at the mercy of our future husbands.”

For the older generation, getting married early meant they missed out on education because family life came first.

Sabah Khan, a publicity director from London, said: “All of my female cousins, even those younger than me are all married now. Some didn’t even get a good education as their values were different and the focus was on starting a family. I find it unusual that in this day and age people still feel so strongly about that!”

Sabah’s own parents were supportive of her education, although at times there was a lot of pressure, she says it helped her to get to where she is today.


Sabah, is divorced, and this she senses is looked down upon in the Asian community.
She said: “There are still members of the wider family and community who don’t even know, even though this happened a couple of years ago. 

“I’ve had a few comments from older woman telling me I’m ‘used goods’ and that I should hurry up and find a man because I’m getting old. That’s difficult to deal with because no matter how strong someone is, you don’t need someone validating your worst fear, to end up alone.”

To help change these views, she said: “We need to educate children from a young age and teach them that men and women are equal and that just because you are female doesn’t mean you are limited in any way.

 “Hopefully if we can teach that from a young age, they will grow into adults who don’t place pressure on themselves and will support each other.”

CEO and love coach Sami Wunder help’s ambitious women find lasting love, without compromising on their success.

The 30-year-old from India is based in the UK and Germany and dumped her politics MA to become a love coach - a move her relatives did not agree with. 

She said: “If marriage didn’t materialise, you were stale stuff in the market and yes it sounds harsh, but this is still the judgement many ambitious women receive in the country, if they’ve dared to give a priority to their careers. 

“You just grow up believing that every woman ought to want kids and there is little space in the society for you to make up your mind about the big decision.”


Nazia Khan, a 37-year-old radiographer said her grandparents were against the idea of her studying, while her parents pushed her to go to university.

The mother of three, said: “My grandparents told my parents that I shouldn’t study at all, not even go to college.

Mrs Khan was the first one in her family to attend university, and other relatives stressed the importance of marriage and kids rather than on career. 

As the mother of three children, two of them being girls, Mrs Khan feels that parents should allow their children to choose what they want to do but guide them along the way.

She said: “There are expectations of getting married and starting a family straight away and I kept getting asked about why I didn’t have any kids.”

Twenty-year-old student Aysha Khan, of Blackburn, said, “Women should be encouraged to go out and live their lives. To interact with friends and gain a social life.

“I think if, as a community we started running groups in which women can comfortably do all these things it would be an improvement.

“Some views can’t be changed through ignorance, but the more women are encouraged to realise that their voice exists, the stronger the foundation we can build for the future generations.”

The expectations placed on Asian women includes education and maintaining family life including the pressure of marriage. 

But today, the perfect ideals are being challenged as not only more Asian women are educated, they are also following their dreams and not being tied down by the pressure of marriage.