In November 2015 when a journalist asked the newly elected Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau why he chose a gender balanced cabinet, he replied, “Because it is 2015”. Seems almost common sense and long overdue that people are recognized not because of what they are, but because of what they can offer. The Prime Minister’s answer was discussed by the local and international media, and the hashtag #BecauseIts2015 was the top trend on Twitter. Everyone thought that it was finally the light of a new dawn and change was in effect.

Last week I was talking to a friend, a young confident woman in her late 20s. From a very young age, she has often played leadership roles in her chosen endeavours. I can’t say that I know her extremely well as we have never had conversations longer than 15 minutes. Last week while discussing some work issues, the topic of sexism arose and I felt that her voice got heavier as the conversation progressed. I could feel the anger and frustration in her tone. She told me that despite her position and qualifications, she was not respected as much as her male counterparts. The board, which composed mostly of men in their late 30s to mid-50s, did not take many issues raised by her seriously. She was excluded from most policy decision-making, and on numerous occasions she was brushed off with statements such as, “don’t worry…we will take care of it”.

image

For the longest time ever, I was a strong believer that I live in a progressive society where merit is slowly, but surely becoming the yardstick. Everyone has (almost) equal opportunity, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s comments reaffirmed those beliefs. This may be because I am blessed with a younger sister who is intelligent, rational and a great leader, or because I have been fortunate to have some great teachers and have worked under the leadership of some great men and women, who are exemplary individuals. Individuals who look different, but the Mr. or Ms. before their names does not define their personalities. The conversation with my friend challenged me and made me come out of this state of oblivion that our society is perfectly meritocratic.

Even though numerous statistics prove that women are just as capable as men (if not more), some organizations still treat them as second class employees. They are not given equal opportunities because they are sometimes deemed weak and emotional. If I get upset or angry at work it is because I am a man and I am passionate about my work, but if my female colleague or even my female boss reacts to something wrong, she is referred with derogatory language.

sexism

We hear some men say, “I am very liberal. I allow my wife to work. I let her be independent.” For starters, why does she needs permission? The fact that they think of working women as liberalism is a shame. It is a basic human right that has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. It is about being a person who treats other human beings with respect.

The problem is not just how some men think. Some women also think that men are better leaders than them and women are incapable of making sound decisions. Women support other women not because they think she is good at her job, but because they believe that she might be over-powered and lost in the man’s world, which fosters the notion that women are dependant and incapable.

500-353

As a kid when I got angry at my mom, my dad used to tell me, if you want to understand the greatness of your mom, try to walk and do all the work you normally do with a tiny piece of rock tied around your waist, eat for two people thrice a day and during all this time make sure the piece of rock is unharmed. Try doing it for one week and if you do that successfully, you will be allowed to do anything you want. I never succeeded.

I wrote this blog because the conversation with my friend did not only upset me, but it made me angry. What she told me was against all the values I hold close to me. I felt ashamed because the individuals who discredit her and disrespect her authority are from my gender. The generation before mine failed to fix things, but I do not want the generations to come to call me a failure. I have a 3-year-old niece who I love more than anything in the world and I do not want her to ask me when she is 25 that, “Chacha you told me to achieve success though merit. I work hard, I don’t take shortcuts, then why don’t my male co-workers respect me?”

A woman who can bring a new life in this world, who creates future leaders, who is responsible enough to make sure that her child is safe even before they are born, is more than capable to be a great leader.

About The Author

Malik Velani
Co-Founder, Social Infinity

I am a social media and marketing enthusiastic, a food junkie and I love cricket, pool, bowling, golf and video games. I also like photography – though it is not one of my strongest points. I am also, kind of, maybe into reading – my favourite genres are comedy, suspense, and …. religion (hence, I am a regular on HuffPost Religion). My areas of expertise are; strategic planning, social media management, user engagement, digital marketing, and team management. Super excited about my journey with Social Infinity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.