In several conversations with people working in media field (the field I used to work in) well educated and experienced people from different countries in MENA actually uttered the words: Women are not fit to lead, women are not fit to handle managerial positions, unable to take reasonable decisions and lacks authoritative judgement!
When hearing this, I think to myself: If such people who were privileged and given the opportunity to learn are saying this, then what would those who are still dwelling in the cycle of traditions and don’t have the leisure to even think of things other than food on the table, would have to say?
Discussions in this matter is futile, many people are not even willing to look into different angle. The sad thing was that among those people there were women. How can women be better partners and associates in life if they cannot see themselves in top positions and can’t even imagine themselves as leaders.
We do suffer from scarcity of women leaders and role models in Middle East, there are a few names doing a good job, but there is the issue of trusting women in taking right decisions and calling the shots. Men are usually trusted even if they were incompetent simply because they are seen in their designated roles in society, and their shortcomings referred to shortage in acquiring skills, while the shortcomings by women are always referred to biology and nature.
In the discussions, I said that I worked for many incompetent and unfit to lead men, they were mean and despicable, but somehow this is accepted by society if it was a man. On the other hand, if a woman committed her own share of flaws, then she is good for nothing and her natural place is to follow instructions and rules not making them as she doesn’t have the ability to form a sound action. There is always a sense of underestimation of women’s abilities and wisdom. And because of this viewpoint, women are seen as intimidating when they demonstrate wit, stamina and courage in decision making and doing a great job in workplace and life.
I recognize that there are almost no organic women working on the micro-social level. When we want to empower the role of women, it is there we need to start from. Not the ones we see on media and TV, not the “high class” women who start organizations out of prestige, and definitely not the pseudo-feminist organizations created by the women related to and men in power.
Such a conversation made me realize how women in MENA must walk a long way to at least change the social mentality about them, and respect their choices and freedoms.
What a disappointing conversation I found myself in.