The boss gave us Thursday afternoon off to “celebrate” Women’s Day. And there’s a lot to celebrate. Personally, I’m quite impressed by what some women have achieved. When I see Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, IMF’s Christine Lagarde and Fatou Bensouda, the new ICC chief prosecutor on the news, I feel so proud, so glad that these women are “representing” the sisters and they’re doing a good job.
We have come a long way, from staying home to cook and take care of the kids (which is not a bad thing when that is what you want to do with your life but most of the time, poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality force women to stay home), to taking over corporate entities, managing franchises and the big one, running for office. But there’s a lot more we need to do, even more mountains to climb and prejudices to snuff out.
I was just reading about a ruling by Afghanistan’s top religious council calling on women not to mix with men in school, at work or other aspects of daily life. The Ulema Council also advised that women should not travel without a male relative! I’m not your typical feminist but even I was enraged by this council’s deliberations. By the way, this same country is one of those places where women are supposed to cover up head to toe, are often cautioned not to wear a lot of make-up and perhaps the worst, stoned to death or shot for adultery.
You and I both know that most of the time, these women are raped and if they’re not killed, they’re jailed and often have their children behind bars. I feel bad that such injustices are allowed to go on, worse even that I have a lot of freedom while all these girls know is torture. To think that many of them will never know the joy of wearing colourful sun dresses, skinny Jeans or Peep Toes to show off their pretty feet, or that they’ll never ever be allowed to date and perhaps marry outside their race and religion.
I can’t imagine the horror of a 13-year-old little girl being married off to a 40-year-old man who already has three wives and 10 children. I can’t imagine not being able to express myself or being denied the opportunity to become a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, an accountant…I can’t do anything to help these girls and women, except maybe pray that someday, God will set them free.
Going back to that clause about to make it unlawful for women to work alongside men, I don’t see any harm in working with guys. I don’t know many women who set out to turn the workplace into a brothel. Most women I know, and they’re quite a number, are there to work and they take their work seriously. Of course I know about relationships born at the workplace, some of which have even ended in marriage. But is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. The only bad thing would be a married man or woman having an affair with a workmate.
And, at the risk of being labelled unfair, I think it’s usually men who make it their business to hit on women, even when those men are married or know that the woman they’re trying to chase is already taken. So who’s to blame? I can’t wait for the day when men will regard women as equals, as opposed to sex objects. A time when a woman makes a presentation about undiscovered markets, mapping out all kinds of strategies to tap into that without the guys drooling over her curves or fantasising about how good she looks out of her clothes. I might have to wait a long while for that.
To be continued…