SEX­ISM

mailife - - Business -

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.

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