“Women and workplace”, a phrase that has and will continue to cause a lot of arguments and discussions. Our famous “Anis Mansour” used to say: “A female worker is neither a female nor a worker!” In a male dominated society, many male professionals fight against presence of females at work claiming that they capture their job opportunities and minimize or even ruin their chances to win and be adequately prosperous in their fields. Few are considered to be advocates for women inside workplaces. Those who call for equality for both sexes and are sometimes labelled as “feminists” get this mark on their track record for life! Some stand a middle ground and opt for behaving like gentlemen. They never declare war, yet do their best to catch women doing something wrong at work, thus, open fire of sarcasm, ridicule and belittling. Women, accordingly, had and still have to face lots of challenges pursuing a career since the dawn of mankind.
Working with men is very demanding, especially when being a female manager. Reporting to males and having male colleagues and/or male subordinates call for special skills and innate talents toolkit from women’s part. Pretense and wearing masks to convey true or fake strength become a full time job. Power games turn into a hobby. Toughness and acquired aggressiveness are a must. “Survival for the Fittest” gets to be the common life motto. Showing any normal signs of tenderness or kindness could easily be mistaken for a weak dumb personality. All these factors deprive women of their natural feminism and compel them to think like a woman, yet act like a man! In addition, complications get aggravated when male subordinates resist female leadership, or when male colleagues look down at their women co-workers and fight against their promotions or success in their career path. Competitions, then, turns to be truly fierce and may be even ugly.
To add salt to injury, women sometimes need to pay for their feminism, particularly if they bestowed a touch of beauty, smartness or sensibility. Bullying and harassment, shameful as they sound, has unfortunately become a common practice, even in big multinational companies. Defending one’s self against them result in retaliation that can be really serious and violent at times. Women’s reputations get to be at stake. And when they open up they get attacked and threatened even more.
On the other hand, women at some other times need to pay for natural qualifications like when getting pregnant and when delivering children. They are entitled, by power of law, maternity leaves and time off work for baby care. These jeopardize their job prosperity, stability and their promotability inside the workplace. These even get them excluded from recruitment and talent pools at the first place. The need to put on a veil or to take it off, or dress up in a certain way hack women’s privacy and freedom of choice in some other occasions.
To stand a fair chance in a masculine world full of egoism, jealousy and grudges women need to work on possessing an adequate arsenal of self defense mechanisms. True self-confidence is a beginning. This could be enhanced through keen practice, continuous learning and eager development of one’s competencies and aptitudes. Believing in one’s self and unlimited resourcefulness is a must. This could be acquired through working on increasing self-awareness and the genuine essence within. Wearing a positive perspective towards life during hard and good times alike needs to be a daily habit. Nothing beats the RIGHT state of mind. “Every Exit is an Entry somewhere else” or “Every New Day is a Gift, Protect It.” Will help a lot as a guiding belief here. Relentless pursuit of full self-actualization against all and every odd are the required weapons of mass personal and professional happiness and welfare. This will come as a natural byproduct of the application of the previous tools if and when done with sincerity and good intention. These are not far of reach. We have a wide spectrum of prominent female figures who represent authentic epitomes and living proofs of these all. To name but a few we have “Sheryl Sandberg” FB COO, “Indra Nooyi” CEO & Chair of PepsiCo, “Virginia Rometty” CEO of IBM, “Amal Othman” an ex-Egyptian Minister and Aisha Rateeb a well astounded Egyptian activist, an ex-Egyptian Minister and Ambassador in Denmark then Germany and was the first female to hold this position abroad.
The whole universe is “Adam and Eve”, why now we want to make it “Adam and Steve”, specifically at work? Diversity is richness and wealth. For a whole eternity men and women have been complementing each other, and enriching the entire human experience and existence. Why should we deprive ourselves of such huge privilege at the modern workplace?
We are here to love, learn, let go and grow. Women at the workplace are no different. Women and the workplace is a combination that is born to outlive opponents and defy all hindering obstacles.
By: Eman El Nabawy
Country HR Manager
VFS Tasheel International
This article is a product of a writing competition organized by Global HR Forum & HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine. Ms. Eman El Nabawy was honorably one of the shortlisted winners in the HR Writer Competition. Judging Panel: Mahmoud Mansi, Dina Marei, Alia Faramawi, Ahmed Saadalla, Nada Adel Sobhi. General Coordinator: Ms. Nour Elzeny.
Photography: Ahmed Samir
My first Work Abuse Experience was from another Woman! ~ Work Diaries
Written By: Dr. Hanan Abd El Moniem
Translated By: Mahmoud Mansi
In my early career, I was lucky to accidentally meet the CEO of the company I worked for in the elevator. I was excited because she was the first female to become a CEO in the Oil and Gas sector in Egypt. She wasn’t smiling as I was, and later on it was announced in the company that no one is allowed to use the elevator with the CEO! By the end of the week I was surprised to find myself transferred into another department and given responsibilities that were lower than my qualifications.
I spent 3 days suffering, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I understood from now on, that the management style was based on fear and authority, and in suppressing the ambitious people of the company so they can “know their limits”!
It is ironic that my first work abuse experience was from another woman, who was assigned as CEO in the first place to promote gender equality!
I refused the rules of the corporate where the strong people are the unfair or unethical, I had to establish my own powers, which were education and patience. That’s when I decided to invest more of my time in self-development, and focused on my education.
On the fourth day, I started my education journey in the American University in Cairo, and I chose to specialize in Quality. For me quality was not only about work, but it was about life, relationships, communication, and eventually in human resources, work-life balance and employee wellness.
I have learnt to always set to myself KPIs, my main KPIs were my self-development and empowerment, after I fulfilled that I moved to another KPI, which was training and developing 5000 employees working in the Oil and Gas sector across Egypt, and now I am fulfilling my third KPI, which is empowering others to ethically fight for their rights, to become more empathetic as well as intellectual, and mainly helping people to become more humane.
Discussed in 1st Arab Women Summit in North America: https://arabwomensummit.com/team/dr-hanan-abdelmoniem/
Book Review: “When Women Unite”, by Abir Yassin
When Women Unite, a one act play, written by Mahmoud Mansi. I would totally say about this play that it is not written to everyone, in a way it is shocking, controversial, questionable, and debatable. And on the other hand I would recommend it to each and every one. It is an eye-opener, can’t put it down kind of books. One can’t believe it is written by a man. The writer can totally get into women’s mind and their inner struggles regardless of their background and their beliefs.
What makes the play standout is mainly the dialogue. While reading, you find your own words and thoughts been told through the characters, to the extent that some lines you act it out while reading.
Concerning the ideas discussed, in a way one can consider it shocking, and on the other way it is so real and deliberated on so many levels through many channels out there. The play has no red lines, it goes through politics and religion and all those areas that one can consider tabooed.
The title, “When Women Unite”, gives the right idea about the main theme of the play which is “women rights” shown through three different ladies, with various life style, minds and orientations. The setting of the play, a demonstration, gives the thoughts a lot of space to be exposed as a bomb. Gives the characters the opportunity to speak out their inner and hidden ideas, which all women on planet Earth has in their black box. The playwright opened that black box with no mercy.
The characters’ development is a little bit fast due to the timeline of the play where by the end they reach their liberty. They reached this freedom when they opened up to each other and expose their wounds to the air.
As a reader, I may tell that it is a great time consuming play to be read. I didn’t waste a minute reading it, a very successful experiment by the writer.
Link to Book on Amazon.com:
Book Review: When Women Unite, Review By Nesma Yassien
About the Book
When Women Unite: A Play about Challenges facing the Modern Movement of Feminism and Gender Dialogue, written by Mahmoud Mansi.
The play is written about the movement of feminism, where women from different backgrounds were present in the same women’s rights protest. When they started talking about politics, relationships, religion, and feminism, they discovered that they were not on the same page. That’s mainly how the play starts and events progress.
Book Reviewer's Note
It took me roughly two hours to read the whole play. I will not lie when I say that I was a bit concerned to read a book about women written from a male (with an Eastern background) point of view. But I was surprised. I recommend including the play in universities with programs relevant to Women Studies Subject.
I liked the choice of characters especially the Harem Slave and the Conservative housewife. Their character representation is very interesting and fresh. These characters are given a platform to voice their opinions which I believe are very anti-stereotypes. Those two specific characters are either not well-represented in literature or are represented as passive, pathetic, and voiceless women. However, you managed to give them a new light by highlighting their multiple humane, feminine, and rebellious sides. For instance, people would never think that a conservative housewife and a Harem Slave would have such big ambitions that would eventually change society (which I believe is represented by the Enshrouded Man).
The first chapter does mirror our society’s mindset through the healthy argument/debate between the characters. The characters represent a variety of cultures, beliefs and background and that has made the play universal.
The play is also timeless and this is evident in chapter two. Discrimination against women has existed ages ago. According to the author’s choice of the characters of Cleopatra and Harem Slave, the issue goes beyond the boundaries of time and space.
Moreover, the characterization of Cleopatra is very clever. Cleopatra has been always portrayed in films and books in a negative light, but the author provided a whole new light to her personality by presenting her as Mother nature- a woman who has the venom and the cure.
Cleopatra discusses the concept of Evilness in a new light. Her words reminded me of Fyodor Dostoyvesky’s idea of pain in Notes From The Underground; how important pain is to the body. According to the Protagonist, without the feeling of pain, no one would realize that the body is dying. The same applies to Evilness in the play. Evil is important to set things right too. Also pain is essential to save the whole body, and so is Evil; it demands us to cure society as a whole without discrimination. The cure is knowledge, confession and acceptance.
The third chapter is fascinating. The characters reveal their past and the readers discover that they are more or less the same. All characters share things in common and they all experience a moment of epiphany after they confess and accept each others’ past.
We are all humans who sin and make wrong choices, but in order to become strong and to unite one should confront himself and accept and embrace her/his sins and wrong choices in life (same as when they confess and embrace each other). This is therapeutic. This is when they are truly free and equal. They all (including the Enshrouded Man) choose to make the right choice by following their passion regardless of how society would see them. This is When Women Unite.
Link to Book on Amazon.com:
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