Dubai - March 08, 2014
It is International Women’s Day and while history has a wide list of women achievers and unsung women heroes, gender inequality is yet an issue in some parts of the globe.
That should not be the case and it is also the women who can influence the society to adapt a progressive and open mind about the equality of sexes, according to The Gulf Today interviews.
Visiting wife and mother from England Michelle Abrahamsen believes gender equality is non-existent owing to the “glass ceilings in many areas of business and prejudices against women in many countries.”
However, this would change the way parents and adults, particularly the women members of the families, bring up their children.
Abrahamsen said the world is generally matriarchal resulting in women making both direct and indirect contributions to the social, economic and political spheres of the society.
From the homes, it is “through the way they raise the next generation.”
She said, “I have two teenagers myself and I believe the best advice I have given them is to have and show respect. If they respect themselves and every other person they come in contact with, there will be no issues of gender, sexuality or race.”
Philippine Business Council-Abu Dhabi chairperson Agnes Aquino-Briggs said culture and sectoral as well as global movements play a vital role on gender equality.
She also said, “But women need to know and realise that it is not the equality per se that gives you the capability and the power to change the way things are. I believe that women have an incredible amount of power and influence the present and the future of their children and their husbands through support, advice, education, among other things.”
Aquino-Briggs pointed out that there should be no competition between the sexes in the first place owing to the different and complementary roles each play leading to equal contributions to the society.
For her, while it is the men who are normally catapulted to leadership, “behind every successful man is a woman and therefore, while we do not always get the credit, women contribute substantially to the society.”
Education counsellor Rema Menon Vellat mentioned the “matrilineal system” of her hometown in India “where women enjoy equal if not more privileges than men.”
Still, there are communities which still treat women as “lesser human beings.”
This could only be overcome through continuing awareness programmes on gender sensitisation starting from the macro levels of leadership, inter-faith orientations and education system to the micro levels specifically in the advertising industry.
“Even some advertising agencies require a crash course on gender sensitisation. They need to understand the adverse impact that stereotyping of women in media and advertisements can make on impressionable minds,” Vellat said.
Lebanese author and educational adviser Micheline Habib wove in a nutshell the views of Abrahamsen, Aquino-Briggs and Vellat.
She said the youth must learn how to decipher and adopt into their lives only the positives the media and advertising ram down on their throats vis-à-vis superficial physical beauty.
“I say to the youth, think of yourselves as a human being who has a soul, potential, abilities, talents, intelligence and a will. A human being who can show respect to themselves and to the other regardless of the other’s gender,” Habib said.
She continued, “Furthermore, be aware of your role, play it and let the other play theirs. Equality is thus born naturally and logically without the need for any conflict.”
Travel consultant Fei Chin Kaw from Malaysia stated in two lines, “We are all born equal and it is what we make of our lives that count. Treat everybody as equal.”