I USED to say that on that one day in the year that is designated Women’s Day, we the women go to celebrate it. There are parades, seminars, power talks, and any programme that can be mounted to focus upon “empowerment” of women, gender equality and equitable roles of women in society.
And yet the rest of the 364 days in any year belong to the men to make decisions, get involved in economic endeavours and do so literally without a tweet.
Perhaps we should celebrate every day as our day reminding ourselves of our diverse roles in society and nation. We are the ones responsible for co-parenting of our children, making such life-impacting decisions in nurturing our young pertaining to the good values and principles of life, the strong sense of responsibility and accountability, a good measure of respect for self and others, accepting the Almighty’s creation among us, and holding fast to the true teachings of one’s faith.
After all, the mother is almost always the CEO in the family making the seemingly mundane, but vital decisions, which will go towards shaping the lives of their young.
It does not matter where one is in the sphere outside of the home. Our responsibilities are already cut out for us. We cannot delegate nurturing of our young to others be it the child minders, teachers, or some surrogate parent types.
It would be almost too late, when due to parental nurturing neglect (because of being very occupied with life and work, outside of the home), some children become delinquent in schools, and later on become problem human resources in the workplace.
As parents and family members, women together with men need to assume their joint responsibilities in co-parenting.
After all, family units constitute the very foundation of society. From families will emerge the nation’s leaders, entrepreneurs, and vital workforce who will be supporting and servicing the economy and society. How the nation performs in any timeline will depend upon the men and women who shape and implement policies and make decisions directly and indirectly impacting the lives of people in our society.
Of course, there cannot be wilful marginalisation of and discrimination against women merely because of ingrained gender bias.
That is a betrayal of the nation’s trust and expectation, to have the better and the best, to move the nation forward.
On the other hand, women must merit consideration because they are suitable to undertake the responsibilities of any endeavour. It is about competency and abilities. About value-adding to nation building.
Not about being “magnanimous”, condescending, or offering tokenism.
Women must never be psyched by the “glass ceiling” bogeyman. It is so inhibitive and not motivating.
The only “ceiling” is our individual and personal mindset and weaknesses. We see “ceiling” when in fact there is none.
Men do not see or sense such “ceilings”, glass or otherwise. Perhaps some macho factor in their DNA does not allow them to do that? Of course they have weaknesses. Of course they have individual issues.
But they do not ascribe them to some “gender” deficiencies.
Women are now living in an era when rapid advancement in all areas of technology, especially ICT, can push the boundaries of human creativity forwards at extremely fast pace. ICT is pervasive in our daily lives.
There is no differentiation between men and women, in availing themselves of the opportunities that such advancements continue to create, especially in the workplace.
I do sometimes hear of some women saying that they have to work “twice as hard” as the men. Why?
If we learn to work smart workloads will be lighter.
And if a woman delivers twice the output and value added. Then she deserves twice the compensation.
Today, women do have choices. They have the same avenues and opportunities to exploit to the fullest in any endeavour. Of course women must be prepared to enhance their knowledge and upgrade their competencies, and keep abreast, if not ahead, of the new demands and imperatives in the operating environment.
Most importantly, there is no need to play the “gender card”, and inadvertently allow our gender to be the focus rather than our capabilities as the nation’s human capital.
Let everyday be a day for women to move forward to take charge in all spheres of society and nation ... beginning with their role in the family unit.
Women are the main pillar ... the “tiang seri” of society ... any society.
The ecosystem must continue to strengthen that pillar and the environment must be conducive and enabling for women to give their best to the society and nation.
It has been almost a half century since the women working in the civil service in Malaysia were accorded equal status with their male counterparts.
That concept of parity of treatment and equitability has long been recognised and accepted.
We just need to move with the times ... and ensure that no archaic and regressive mindsets within society serve to hold women back through unwarranted gender bias and discrimination.
Every unit of human capital is important.
Sejahtera Malaysia kita.
Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz believes in speaking from the heart, mincing no words. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org