I always believed that there is no difference between what men and women can achieve, but at this point in my life I have realized that maybe there are different areas that women and men are good at and putting them together in one space might not bring out equal results. If I need to give an example from my life I would turn to sports. I have always been a a good athlete, but whatever sport I played I realized that if I was competing with a guy of equal skills, he would mostly beat me at it. Was it because he was physically stronger than me or because it was inbuilt in his genes? I do not really know. However, now I know there is a reason why women and men compete in the same sport, but not against each other.
Can a woman do everything that a man can?
Why is it that I thought I could do what any male could do? Maybe it’s because I was surrounded by strong women – my mother and my grandmother. They have never let me feel that a woman can’t achieve what a man can. But let’s face it; today’s world is a man’s world. Government, politics, global organizations, families (to a large extent) and wars are all governed by men. One can count the number of women in commanding positions on their fingertips. Does that mean that one can’t make a difference being a woman? I have tried to explore the answer to this question that existed since time immemorial.
In the U.S, which is considered one of the most developed countries in the world, there has not been a single woman president till now. If I wanted to join the U.S senate, I would be part of an 18.7 percent women-population in the senate. In business, if I wanted to become the CEO, I would be part of an anaemic 5.4 percent of the women-CEO brigade of the Fortune 500 companies.
Even in India, though we have had a woman president and a few women chief ministers, the condition of majority of women is downright pathetic. Two rapes are reported every hour with the unofficial figure being even higher. According to statistics taken in 2011, women employees in central, state and local governments in the country are just 17.47 percent of the total employee strength, while women in organized sector constitute only 0.54 percent of all employees.
So, how do we change the current scenario to uplift women and bring them at par with the decision makers of today? I don’t have immediate answers to the question, but we first have to accept the fact that this change is not going to happen overnight. It has taken centuries for women to come out of their homes and start voicing their opinions and it might take a long time for them to stand at par with men.
What can we do?
I think we can definitely start with the below listed steps.
- Educate both boys and girls from childhood that men and women are inherently different and different does not mean inferior. They should be taught to celebrate diversity. For a woman to be a weak carbon copy of a man would be futile, what instead should be done is to identify her strengths and cultivate those.
- Women should start voicing their opinions more often and speak up. Sheryl Sandberg talks about this in depth and how women need to say what is on their mind and not accept stereotypes if they don’t believe in them.
- Men should be educated and sensitised to age-long practices that have become a norm. Roles are changing with more women getting educated and working than before, and one should be able to accept this change.
What happens when these changes start showing colors?
These are some of my thoughts. Empowering women would make world a better place. The last century was the bloodiest in human history, and so far, this one has been a tale of war, terrorism, religious extremism, abject poverty, and disease. It’s not that it’s all men’s fault, but as mentioned above they have largely been in-charge and it doesn’t seem like we are any close to finding answers to these profound and vexing problems. So, if women stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men, I think, conversations would take place, though long (considering women are involved), but conversations nonetheless and not mindless wars. Politics would be more collegial, businesses would be more productive and communities would be healthier. The world will probably be a more peaceful place if men and women together make the decisions in every sphere of life. On a lighter note, I think one would see a lot of pink in the world and shopping would be considered an aerobic activity.
And I rest my case by reiterating: BLUE (men) + PINK (women) = WHITE (peace)
This articles was first published in Women’s Web.