New norms: Workplace notes for women

Should women form teams at work to help and support each other?

In a patriarchal culture like India, the less privileged position of women in society cannot be denied. So equating women with men will negate the harsh reality.

This societal status exists both in the private and public spaces. This is not assuming the world is against women; it is accepting the fact that Indian males are by and large chauvinistic and women are inherently submissive. Socialisation from childhood makes the Indian woman internalise norms and values so that she automatically relegates herself to being the “‘worse” half. Just because there has been an entry of women into the workplace, it does not mean she has achieved equality. On the contrary, the inequities have increased in the political, economic and social spheres and this, is a matter of huge concern.

Growing instances of sexual harassment and violence against the weaker (sic) sex are a grim reminder that something is rotten in our gender equations. And nowhere is this more evident than in the workplace where economic and social compulsions may place women in abusive situations. The word ‘abuse’ is used as a blanket term to cover emotional and mental stress and discrimination. Often the ideas and initiatives put forth by women are regarded as trivia.

The gender disparity and bias may be depicted in subtle or obvious ways. At such a juncture, only another woman can provide succour and support because she “understands”. She does not have to be a friend, she merely reaches out and offers a shoulder to “cry” on. If she is an older or senior woman, she can even assume a mentor’s role. If this is replicated at all levels in the workplace, it implies women just getting together to provide a comfort zone. Just that!

Having a women’s cell at the workplace is a statutory requirement but I’m not sure whether they are functional as very often they are termed as just grievance cells and that is a severe misnomer! The group must instead encourage interaction and informal primary relationships. These feminist teams lean on each other, mentoring and bonding, and form a wall which binds and barricades the onslaughts from the male bastion. Such a collective mobilisation, translated into cohesive action at the workplace, can rally women towards a united front. It is not mere vigilantism, it is just safeguarding the interests and welfare of women, by being “prepared”!

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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