What is our society’s perception of working women?
Sajeda Farisa Kabir writes for DOT :
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. This day should be used not only to celebrate how far women have come, but also to take a critical look at what more needs to be done. In Bangladesh, less than 4% women have effective ownership over land. Violence, particularly sexual violence is on the rise. Perpetrators of such offences rarely get punished as less than 10% of cases go to courtand rate of judgment received is below 1%. Women’s presence in the workplace has increased, but we have not been able to ensure women’s safety on the streets and the workplace.
When the conversation is about “balance”, the prevailing factors, such as girls’ right to education, measures being taken to tackle child marriage, women friendly workplaces and conditions must be taken into account. Allowing women to come to work is a positive step, but it should not be the case that they are forced to accommodate themselves in a space meant for men. Women have numerous responsibilities other than their job; employers should be mindful of that when designing polices and procedures for their organisations. For example: there are only a handful of places which offer child care facilities in the workplace, an office transport which picks up and drops off women home, flexible hours etc.
Additionally, it is necessary to think about our current mindset. What is the society’s perception of working women? Do men still see women as serious professionals or are the women simply doing a job to kill boredom? Is society ready to see women as equal contributors at home and in the workplace? Initiatives to increase women’s access to the market and ensuring education of the girl child needs to continue but it is also important to start thinking of a mindset change; women’s role in society is changing; we should look and think about them differently.
The writer is a Barrister, Advocate, Supreme Court, Lawyer, NSW, Partner, Vertex Chambers.