Gender equality: Don't break the glass ceiling, remove it completely

If one is vehement it is like you were swinging on the vines of self-deception and pretending which I am certainly not.



By Bikram Vohra

Published: Wed 19 Feb 2020, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Feb 2020, 8:57 PM

As the father of two daughters I can safely say it has never been an issue to differentiate on points of gender. On occasion I have been asked if I miss having a son and the honest answer is no, not really. You say that as fervently as possible and people give you an indulgent smile as if you were fabricating your stance. The reason for that is that I am not vehement in my denial. If one is vehement it is like you were swinging on the vines of self-deception and pretending which I am certainly not.
However, having truly never seen the difference these past seven decades between men and women in the workplace or in intelligence or in achievement I have to submit that equality in my mind has been a given. This attitude becomes doubly valid because we were a pretty chauvinistic larger family where men had the larger slice of the cake.and the icing, too. Perhaps I reacted against that or it was just a personal set of values and a series of relationships and friendships in the earlier years where, paradoxically, the military family that we were integral to allowed for swathes of freedom and thought and debate and discussion often engineered by the women themselves.
Even though gender roles were pretty sharply delineated, the saving grace was that the women had an opinion and allowed to express it without being mocked.
It was truly different for us in those growing years because in my part of the world women are often stymied by three toxic darts:
You will not understand, this is not for you.
This is man talk, stay out of it.
Leave us alone, women to the other room.
Variations of these three condemnations abound. As I said, not only was their opinion sought, it was also frequently accepted and always respected. And it wasn't just domestic matters, it was anything, even current affairs and politics.
That is the constant. The respect. In the past and now. It is as simple as that.
In this context, the enlightenment displayed in hosting the Women's Empowerment Conference in Dubai has been exemplary. I do believe these two days of talk and introspection have opened many closed windows. It is a fact that sometimes conservative societies are more liberating and accommodating than the so-called modern social structures where the visual freedom, so to speak, is often seen as a sign of progressiveness while the shackles are actually unbroken.
It is not the brazenness of your clothes or your speech or your defiance of any code of conduct that underscores women power. That is also a clever gambit by men. True freedom comes with education and the right to have a say in the decision-making process and the impact you can have on your environment.
There is so much we can take away from such milestones as this conference. The idea is not break the glass ceiling but to remove it entirely. Traditional role playing and cerebral productivity can mesh together and create a perfectly viable entity be it man or woman.
The one major aspect that has arisen from these discussions is the decision by the UAE to export women empowerment to the world at large. It has already succeeded to sanctifying Happiness and given Tolerance across the board a huge boost. How many nations have active, dedicated ministries for promoting happiness and tolerance? It will not come as a surprise if another portfolio is mandated for women, to act as a catalyst to intent.
The President of the UAE Gender Balance Council Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum made a very eloquent statement in her closing remarks when she said the UAE has become a model not only for the Arab world but for all nations that seek to empower women and promote their participation in all spheres of life.
One of the reasons why it is succeeding here is because it is honest and earnest and not merely window dressing or patronizing and concessional. Herein lies the strength of the vow to give every human the same opportunity and ensure it knocks on every door regardless of whether it is a man or woman behind it.
- bikram@khaleejtimes.com
 


More news from OPINION