We don’t want to be better, we don’t want to rule the world; we simply want to be perceived as equals in society. My personal interpretation of gender equality is equality in both responsibilities and rights. Whether in general or in the workplace, tasks should be given to the qualified person or candidate regardless of gender.
It’s a scientific fact that women tend to process more with the “right-brain”, which technically makes them more intuitive, creative and great communicators. Men on the other hand are left-brain dominant, which makes them more task-oriented thinkers. That’s why many women succeed in jobs such as human resources, and in the marketing communication field. They are able to express ideas and deal with people more effectively because of that “emotional” side.
One of the drawbacks that women face in the workplace, especially in Egypt, is that gender inequality is still an issue. Women’s participation in the workplace is significantly low. Their participation is only 32% of the population compared to a whopping 68% of men’s participation as indicated by the World Bank.
Some prefer to hire men instead of women because they worry about pregnancy/maternity leave, or due to the stereotype of “a woman should only take care of her home’ or women’s inflexibility when it comes to traveling.
How many female CEO’s have you met? You could probably name them all in a few seconds. Women don’t make it to the position of CEO that easily. They still have to go that extra mile to prove that they are up to it. Did you know that women who currently hold CEO positions in the 2014 USA “Fortune 1000” company ranking are less than 5%?
I do believe in change, yet all stakeholders need to be active in ensuring that change is implemented. Organizations should be more educated and progressive. This should be done through a strong HR system and on-going training for women to provide them with the skill sets that they need in today’s challenging world, for example, “work-life balance”. A clear message should be sent that women not only have the ability to raise families, but also excel and produce impeccable results and contribute to the organization’s success. In other words, having family responsibilities does not interfere with work.
Women themselves have the responsibility of always presenting themselves in a professional, confident and strong manner, and to improve and prove themselves in the workplace regardless of any criticism. Just set the goal and go for it.
Media in all its forms has one of the strongest roles in influencing and empowering women. Just by simply highlighting women with big achievements, and talking about their success stories can make a huge difference. Not only does it motivate other women, but it also spreads the awareness and culture of having successful women, and emphasizes their contribution to the economy.
Gender equality encompasses creating equal opportunities for women, which should be done through improving women’s access to education, healthcare and creating public policies. This is the role of the government, as well as setting policies to help boost the number of working women by setting a minimum number of women to be hired in the workplace.
All stakeholders need to collaborate as women are over 49% percent of the total population, and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy. There will be neither development nor a successful society until women are empowered and treated with equality.
By: Nour Elzeny
EDITOR: Ayam Amin
Photography: Ahmed Samir
About the Author: Ms. Nour is currently the General Manager of the Corporate Communication at Suez Canal Bank. She was the former Regional Communication Manager, MENA region in Arab Radio and TV (ART). In addition, she lectures in leading universities and training institutions in Egypt and in the Middle East (American University in Cairo, Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport, CIC, etc…). She is an instructor and the head of Communication Module, CIES-FIFA Sports Management programme at Cairo University. She is also the founder of The Global HR Forum. She is the head of the Public Relation Committee in Business Women of Egypt 21 Association (BWE 21), and a member of Rotary Club Cairo Royal. She has received several awards: “Model for Egyptian Women” in 2012, “Women Empowerment Award” in 2015, and other appreciations from Rotary District 2451 for supporting youth empowerment.
This article is a product of a writing competition organized by Global HR Forum & HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine. Ms. Nour Elzeny 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.
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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