At the onset of this article, I would like to put it out there that words like women’s day, feminise, gender equality, and the like, have been concepts that needed to be explained to me. While this may seem arrogant and almost chauvinistic to most, the truth is I have been raised in an environment and been fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the most incredible powerhouses being women, with the mental and social strengths and multitasking abilities that would bring most men to their knees. So, forgive me for not being able to propagate these ideas since for me it comes as second nature to recognise that women are far above the benchmarks we men have set for ourselves, and honestly, the sooner we recognise this very basic fact, is the day our lives become truly that much richer.
Being in the legal profession and running a firm for more than two decades with the majority of professionals being women and an equal number of women partners, I can very confidently say that I would not be where I am if the women around me were not as strong, loyal and the forces to reckon with, as I have had the honour to work with. It has been a rip rollicking ride to learn the varied challenges each of these women face on a day to day basis, as well as acknowledge the sheer determination with which they cater to the needs of a profession that makes no exceptions to the rule of its demands, irrespective of gender. It would be unfair not to acknowledge that these challenges are not limited to just the legal profession and penetrate through all professionals including varied levels of hierarchy within organizations.
While celebrating women should not be restricted to a day, International Women’s Day does provide a valuable opportunity to us as a society at large to consciously look around us and acknowledge the achievements of women, not just because they have climbed the professional ladder and carved a niche for themselves, but even those who manage and make our houses into homes, bring families together, multitask with the ease of a goddess with ten hands and not to underestimate the strength and support women provide us in our day to day lives.
If this day requires any type of reflection, it is for us as men to realise that our roles in our immediate surroundings, our decisions and actions, either take us further towards or away from the problems that women do face such as a gender unequal society, unequal career opportunities, bias leadership roles. We, unfortunately, live in a society where masculinity is equated with overpowering women physically, undermining their contribution in a conversation, being the “bread-earner” of the family; while really the very definition of masculinity should be the support to women to build careers or raise children or do both, respecting their choices both professionally and personally, protection against predatory behaviour and providing platforms for them to flourish.
It has been my absolute privilege to be able to provide these fierce women with a platform to prove and establish their metal and hope to be a primary reason for them to grow from strength to strength in an environment where gender bias, discriminatory behaviour, questionable safety, are never a topic of conversation, just as it should not be anywhere. As they say, change can start with just one person, and in this case organization, we hope to be one of the many precursors to this positive and hopefully ripple effect towards women empowerment and safety.