Friday, 19 May 2017

Women In The World Of Work.

Many years have passed since we first mounted the stage and elaborately proclaimed that women could ascend the pedestal, assume their natural places and harness great dreams. To the contrary, the roaring cacophony of gender discrimination within various segments of our society continues to soil our words and blanche our proclaimed ideas. Despite the passing of time, we are yet to make good of our promises as a decent people; be it at home or at work, discrimination continues to flourish in such a so-called modern era with some societies clinching to orthodox perception of gender balance in the workforce. The defensive posture purported is that females are not naturally oriented for certain task. What is it I hear them say? “…her physical ability is a limiting factor in accommodating her to the job…”. this I strongly believe is based on a misunderstanding of basic realities, and I hope my belief is right, or else it would be ridiculous to know that discrimination is willful in this age of our human existence. I have had the opportunity to study human and work sciences in many great institutions to include Biology at Liberia’s highest institution of learning- the University of Liberia and Occupational Safety and Health at the International Training Center of the ILO (ITCILO) and the Turin School of Development. During these years of studies, I have found baseless the argument that a female’s physical ability limits her performance of certain job. No sooner have the debate started, those engaged in it quickly abandoned the ideas once the clarity had been presented and their once cherished misconception plunged. My basic argument to them is that years ago- era of the great Paul Bunyan (American folklore) and others, men cut trees using axe and logging could not be dreamed of as a flourishing activity as it is today.  Not all men could do what Paul did. We were all unfit for the works we do today. But my studies in the mentioned sciences have brought me to understand that work and systems of work must be adapted to suit the person doing the work and not the other way around- i.e adjusting a person to the work and work systems. In order to achieve this, we mechanized activities and improved work patterns to ensure that our task were well suited for us. Even today, we continue to improve these machines and our work processes. This in all fairness could be done to enhance the fullest participation of all genders at no extra cost and without a hassle. And this again proves wrong the idea that certain tasks are not suited for women. As we sought continuous improvement and adaptation of our work through mechanization, it is only logical to adjust tasks to as well suit woman thus creating the much needed gender balance.

The struggle for gender balance was not started during our time, people have struggled long before us and therefore as we strive to promulgate processes our predecessors started, gender equality is as important as continuing the creation of the atomized world they so much desired and started but, we project a diametrically opposite and contradictory idea when we are gender bias because they (our predecessors) also toiled for gender equality.

The importance of this day is not opaque and therefore cannot be overstated. We can all agree that women were important actors in carving the society we boast of and even today, remain important in steering the future. Despite orthodox ides of gender equality within some areas, women has for centuries transcended heights and achieve great success.This was not unique to one continent nor gender, from the days of Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, up to our time of Malala yousafzai and Leymah Gbowee, most of whom were from different countries and continents, women had and continue to play crucial roles in the world we occupy today. Despite years of imbalance and in extreme cases oppression and alienation, they have strived for the freedom and progress of humanity.

March 8 each year is marked by more than 100 countries around the globe as International Women’s Day. Some believe that this day began in the United States of America whilst others believe in varying origin. Despite history being occluded with disparities in the origin of this day, I see it as a unique opportunity for all of us to listen, not just listen but learn, not just learn but dream, not just dream but plan, not just plan but implement plans and realize our dreams. The commitment to realize one’s dreams starts with the setting of realistic objectives and walking through these objectives each day. Dream is like an empty basket and plans are like fruits to fill this basket, grasping onto smaller end goals and putting them in your basket. You wouldn’t realize how much you have achieved until they start to fall out of the basket and someone watching calls out to you saying “hey, you dropped something” then you stop, look at your success and go to bed feeling achieved. Our predecessors have done this, they enacted national and international instruments to defend the right of every gender walking this earth, and they were wise to realize that there is one soul which animates all men. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights is a classic example of their achievement. Unfortunately, our generation have miserably failed to implement these instruments to the fullest. We have limited time now and our pace is slow, we need to awaken to the call in all spheres of our society. We need to accommodate women and give them the much needed chance.

Today, I wish we reflect and pay respect to women of yesterday, whom despite trying times stood against the wind to rewrite history. For the courage that toiled the course of freedom, sovereignty is the price they sought, though liberation was not a crown they wore, their progeny owe to them commendation and we are as ignorant as the oppressor if we attenuate this.

Thank for the audience, I hope you fill your basket with fruits of gender equality, have a good day.

Habib Sheriff

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