Saizul Amin

Rethinking workplace gender equality

My friends and I have been through personally changing events in the last year and a half, in addition to seeing history. To put it another way, we graduated in the midst of the pandemic. “No one ever prepared us for this phase of life,” my friend stated last night, and it stuck with me.

She was talking about her tumultuous first five months in the workforce. She had taken up her current position with zeal because the company was well-known, particularly in the sector she had studied. However, after only a few weeks, she realized how much of a mismatch she was for this work atmosphere. Leaving aside the insanity of most Bangladeshi offices insisting on working on-site during the epidemic despite the fact that remote work provides higher levels of productivity, my buddy faced unforeseen obstacles due to misogyny. “Hey, I’m unmarried, so don’t put a young woman on my team,” a male coworker said in one of the stories she told me.

At the aforementioned workplace, the female-to-male ratio was, predictably, alarmingly low. This got me thinking about the current employment issues that women are still facing today. What genuine changes have we done to ensure gender equality, regardless of the beautifully crafted care packages that HR departments of various firms send to their female coworkers on March 8th?

For this reason, token gestures are dangerous: what is meant to be a symbol of working-class women’s problems may all too quickly be turned into a photo op, as employees fill social media with photographs of themselves dressed in pink and purple. Regrettably, that appears to be the extent of some organizations’ accountability. The scenario necessitates a more in-depth examination of our internalized biases and social etiquette that have been normalized.

We’ve seen an increase in the number of women entering the workforce over the previous few decades. This transformation must be reflected in more than just numbers. A lot needs to be reevaluated, from our verbal language to our behavior and body language, in order to create safe settings for women. It’s not enough to say that more women are entering the labor; we must also consider the costs. Are women, in the end, paying a price for having access to all-boys clubs?

Bangladesh joined the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1984. (CEDAW). Gender inequality is addressed in three articles of our constitution (10, 19, and 28). “Nothing in this article shall preclude the State from adopting special provisions in favor of women or children, or for the advancement of any backward segment of people,” says Article 28(4). This demonstrates that the required legislation are in place; yet, the implementation of those rules remains a big question mark.

We have an unmet demand for accountability mechanisms, which could take the form of regulatory agencies that oversee workplace settings. We must also engage on the perhaps more difficult journey of challenging and unlearning much of the patriarchy’s assumptions, cognitive processes, and vocabulary.

From The Daily Star

Saizul Amin

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