How to #BreakTheBias? Recognise it, fight it, eliminate it

Even as we celebrate the spirit of womanhood today, we must remember its possibilities every day.

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Published: Mon 7 Mar 2022, 11:00 PM

"Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.” That’s how International Women’s Day’s (IWD) official website introduces its theme of the year — #BreakTheBias.

The precision of language in the message implies we are not quite close to that utopia. The silver lining, however, is that we might not be too far from it either. And how do we know that?

In the modern world, it is not unfathomable to imagine a woman leading a country. Neither is it unthinkable to see them on the frontlines of science and technology. Can she climb Mount Everest, travel to space or face the adversary in a conflict zone? Heck, yes. The problem is these examples serve as exception rather than the norm. And IWD’s plea envisions a world where women will be the protagonists of many such milestones.

Sure, breaking the bias helps us inch closer towards that world. But before you embark on that journey, it is important to recognise the bias itself, for many of us have been conditioned to believe in the normalcy of such way of life.

It is not quite alright to take it in their stride when women find themselves being paid less as opposed to a male colleague for bringing the same skill sets and results to a job. It shouldn’t have to be ‘acceptable’ to balance the career clock with the biological clock and emerge a winner when the expectation from the opposite sex isn’t quite so? It is important to recognise that a man can be the nurturer-in-chief while a woman can be the chief executive officer. It shouldn’t have to be normal when older female professionals are compelled to believe they are past their prime while the younger ones are denied opportunities that are all too easily available to their male counterparts. These are only some examples where women find themselves shortchanged owing to their gender; the list is actually much longer.

Listening to what women really want is key to breaking the bias. And that cannot be a job we assign ourselves once a year on the occasion of International Women’s Day. It is a dialogue we ought to have on an everyday basis to facilitate course correction, to make that dream of a gender equal world turn into reality. Which is why even as we celebrate the spirit of womanhood today, we must remember its possibilities every day.

To find her world at home or discover a home in the world ought to be the prerogative of one person only — the woman herself.

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