By JOHN KAMEA Globally, sexism is a form of discrimination fueling much of the inequality that exists between men and women today. Despite safeguards in countries’ legal framework and human rights laws, it continues to plague society, largely affecting woman and girls. Fiji is no exception and local organisations such as Fiji Women’s Right Movement have done much to redress the situation through lobbying for policy changes and encouraging young women to take their rightful place in society as leaders, movers and shakers. Other groups work at regional and international level. A woman who has broken through barriers and become a strong model of what women can achieve, particularly in the area of commerce, is Women in Business President, DrNurBano Ali. She contributes her achievements and status to helping other women to break through the impediments of sexism that are holding them back. DrAli believes the sexism has trivialized women’s contribution in society and discounted their abilities. The Women In Business Awards 2018 is themed “Times Up!”a bold and unequivocal call targeted at stamping out impediments to women’s progress in the world of commerce, including sexism.WIB hopes to create conversation around the subject and the belief, attitudes, stereotypes that perpetuate it. Some literature defines sexism discrimination as prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. Although sexism can affect either gender, it has been known to disadvantage women and girls more than men and boys. It has been linked to stereotypes that reinforce the belief that one sex or gender is intrinsically superior to another. “Sexist ideas and beliefs which stereotypes women’s roles in society is the cause of unequal treatment of women,” Dr Ali told maiLife. “Benevolent sexism is a type of prejudice which stereotypes women as affectionate, delicate and sensitive, rendering them as weak individuals who are incapable of handling tough high ranking jobs. She said women accept this ideal together with men and this is what leads to men in high positions and leaders of organization to relegate women’s contribution and discount their abilities. At home, the Fijian business sector remains largely male-led with very few women in the chief executive and managing director positions. Boards of most companies are also populated by men. To level that playing field Dr Ali believes there has to be a very focused and concerted effort to seek out women in management and top positions. More women also need to be at decision making platforms such as the board and management committees. That is one of the reasons behind the WIB Awards - to not only recognize women’s contribution in business and celebrate their achievements but to also drive in the public psyche the notion that women deserve, as a matter of right, to be at the top echelons of leadership. “We want to encourage people to come forward and nominate women they know deserves to be recognized with an award. We ask women not be hesitant about putting their hands up and being counted.” Dr Ali said.1 “The current structures with male dominated decision making at those levels cannot and will not allow women to gain leadership roles. Women absolutely have to be present on recruiting panels and at all levels of decision making to ensure and enable women to be considered let alone be appointed to the top jobs,” Dr Ali said. Patriarchal influences on leadership is also a contributing factor, she said. “Without women in leadership they were left reliant on men to identify women to be promoted to leadership positions and this will absolutely slow down the progress of women’s advancement. “It is important to understand that if we want women to
Dr Nur Bano Ali facilitates a speed networking session in Suva.