I #PledgeForParity. Do You?

In 2015, Viola Davis, an African-American, became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. And this is what she said when she got up on the stage to take that award;

“‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”


Beautiful and poignant, isn’t it? Very aptly so, especially when you had to wait till 2015 for a woman of color to win an award first given in 1952. Yes, makes you think, doesn’t it? That not only is there bias, a huge one too, between opportunities provided to women as opposed to men but among women themselves.

But I’d like to alter her speech a little. Remove exactly three words from there. And what remains after that is something that is true for the women fraternity worldwide, across countries, race and color.

“‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”


Don’t you agree?



The only thing that separates women from anyone else is what we call opportunity.


Now, this word opportunity reminds me of an incident that happened not too long ago. It was in October 2014 that I was promoted to lead my team. There were two of us in contention for the post. Me, a woman, and my colleague, a man. Of course, the decision was based solely on our performance; parameters defined by the organization which depended on performance. And since I managed to get ticks against more check boxes than him, I was given the promotion. That’s how it should have been and that’s what happened.



Not only is there bias, a huge one too, between opportunities provided to women as opposed to men but among women themselves.


But a few days after that in a meeting my offshore manager told me this in front of that colleague of mine.

“I didn’t want to give you the promotion but I had to because it was decided in line with the organization’s rules for a promotion. If I had the chance, it would have gone to your colleague.”

Now, I don’t know what you think but in my mind, he shouldn’t have done that. He should either have not given me the promotion or else once given and rightly so, not demean me in front of my colleague with whom I still had to work. And that brings me to my next question.

Would this have happened if it were two men between whom he had to decide? Or, if my colleague would have been given the promotion?

No, right?

So, you see, how hard it is, for women to go ahead even in organizations which have clearly outlined policies against gender bias? How hard it is for them to be given the opportunity to be something? And even when given the opportunity, there are still people who can’t quite stomach seeing women even hold, let alone do well in important positions?

This was only about me, a nobody. If Hillary Clinton, a woman vying for Presidency, in one of the world’s most powerful nation, is subjected to deliberate misogynist propaganda, how are the lives and conditions of women anywhere else any better?

So, this is the reason why we need to pledge for parity as is the theme for the International Women’s Day this year.


www.internationalwomensday.com


You might think it is only a symbolic gesture. Or, what would celebrating one day a year achieve? If you do, I don’t blame you. I used to feel the same way, think of it as a charade. But you know, I feel differently now because, believe me, every single bit counts. 


Making a huge noise, even if one day a year, counts. They are not going to listen to us if we don’t badger them, lay stress on their eardrums.


And don’t for a moment believe that the bias only exists in our minds and it has almost been rooted out from the world. No.

As per the International Women’s Day website:

‘The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.’

2133. 

It means 117 years to gender parity.

Yes, we might need to wait till 2133 to see this dream turn into a reality. So, I urge you to make a pledge to do something about it. I know I have, to challenge conscious and conscious bias. I’m going to teach this to my daughter too, hand over the baton to the next generation. I wish you find ways to do the same. Do something, anything at all because we deserve it and it’s high time it is done.

So, tell me, this women’s day will you #PledgeForParity?

***

A couple of bloggers at Write Tribe, which includes me, have decided to do something special this Women’s Day. A few of us women have decided to write about women, for women on our blogs and thus, in our own little way add to the voice of change.

The next post goes out tomorrow at Richa Singh’s blog. Don’t forget to visit.



51 thoughts on “I #PledgeForParity. Do You?

  1. True, Nabanita. There is a very long road ahead till women are treated on par. But we all need to keep working towards doing our bit.

  2. True, Nabanita. There is a very long road ahead till women are treated on par. But we all need to keep working towards doing our bit.

  3. Sorry you went through that, Naba. It always seems that women have to work extra hard to prove themselves in the work place. We must use every opportunity to raise our voices for equal opportunities that are genuine and not lip service.
    Looking forward to the week. Thanks for starting it off.

  4. thought provoking indeed. While the bias will never go away, attitudes are changing and more opportunities are coming our way. three cheers for women the world over.

  5. Somehow your story made me squirm. We need more women in senior postitions to achieve better parity. I would urge women to have a long career.

  6. I will tell you my story. The department I worked in my last organisation had just 5 females in a team of 50 members. There were open positions and the head wouldn't recruit any more females. Why? Because females were required to leave on time one for their own reasons, second the department could not afford to provide security guards to accompany them if they left late in company cabs. The other reason was if they cannot stay back then they could not be given more work and the other employees (male) had to bear the brunt. And this was a multinational organisation. The problem was the mindset of the people who ran the show. So you have important a valid point and that is Opportunity. I pledge for parity too in my own way.

  7. wow your manager had some nerve… I am sorry to had to work with them 🙁
    Loved how you highlighted the point with Viola Davis's speech. 2133!! So I won't even be alive to see that happening. Although I do agree that perspective is slowly changing … but long way to go.

  8. The only thing that separates women from anyone else is what we call opportunity. Very powerful words. Great post, Naba. I too love to pledge for parity only !!!

  9. Naba… the quote. It is simply putting me in trance. I decided to read your post just before I go and write my own. Because I knew you would put me in that spot. The right sweet spot of writing 🙂

    In your post the part about your promotion appeals the most to me. Because this is exactly what it is. We have lived far too long to say gender discrimination doesn't exits for normal people. Hope the years to come make the world a better place. And our words would have contributed in some way to it..

  10. The quote is so telling. Your senior who demeaned you showed his true character and I feel sad for him. It's true, women have to struggle every nano second despite their attributes!

  11. Very true Nabanita! It is very difficult to change people's perceptions in spite of all the noise we make to ensure gender parity, but that is no reason why we should ever stop to protest. With you on this. I too #pledge for parity in ways that I can and will continue to do so! Only way forward is to increase awareness and work for #GenderParity!

  12. This is what I have pledged for too. To challenge conscious and unconscious bias. And about the promotion incident, you know what, I am going through the same in my own organization. Right now I'm literally fighting to get the same benefits as my fellow male partners, even when I have the eligibility and right to get them. And these people are more or like family itself. I get to see and fight these gender parity on a daily basis. And at times it's so consummating that I just feel completely drained out. As Richa said, Hope the years to come make a better world for our daughters.

  13. Amen to the pledge. Doing our bit here, does work believe me, if not today but tomorrow for our daughters. The need of the hour is strength in numbers, once we women stand together, there can be no challenge, no scope for disparity. Loved the quote by Viola Davis.

  14. Such a sad thing you had to go through. And you are right about the bias. We have all seen that here and there. I am pledging for Parity. Thanks for sharing your story and such a well done post.

  15. That happened to you? It's ubiquitous, isn't it? Lot of things around us happens and we don't even mind them doing coz they have gotten into our system so bad.. and that is what we need to change.

    Your post really moved me Naba, and I too have pledged for parity and share my cent on my blog.. Thanks 🙂

    Cheers

  16. I can totally believe that your boss would have said something like that! Have heard a few other stories and also experienced situations like that where the bias is so obvious at workplaces. Someday in the golden future things will be better….that's the hope, isn't it!

  17. Thanks for coming up with the idea to do this, Corinne
    As you say, every opportunity to do what we can must be used

  18. Thanks for the kind words, Richa..As you say, I hope, sincerely too, that our words contribute in some way ..

  19. All the best to you, Sheetal..Don't give up fighting for what you deserve..don't ever..we are all with you 🙂

  20. I read your post Geetika and I loved it so much:) thanks for your support and adding to the voices for parity

  21. Thanks foe sharing this… Gender discrimination has always existed… If it is going to change in 100 years doubtlessly, I am ready to wait I guess… And the change should start from us… and should be taken over by our children…

  22. Nabanita, I've posted about Women's Day too, and how the day itself is becoming a way to increase dis-parity.

  23. Loved the quote, Nabanita! Gender discrimination is so deep rooted that it will take a long long time to remove the shackles of the mind and facilitate a transition to a world where women can co-exist with men as equals. Gender bias needs a multi-pronged approach as I see it but we can all make a start with how we bring up the next generation as we can still mould their minds early on, so that they can grow up with the right perspective!Even one step in the right direction is key to the change we wish to see.

  24. You said it Esha..We need to bring up the next generation with the right perspective and maybe then we can all see the change more prominently…

  25. One is getting the opportunity, the other one is seizing it – I guess the latter can be worked upon by many women on their own. That itself would close the gap to a great extent.

    Agree, that the former should be encouraged in every field.

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