I wrote this last year, shared it with Empower Women and mostly kept it to myself. We have made progress, but there is still so much work to do. I hope we shall all join the women’s cause and be the change catalyst in our communities.
In my country, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a public holiday, law establishes it and, it is mostly a non-working day but I live in America and I must go to work. In spite of that, I usually look forward to all the awesome quotes of statements made by inspiring women, pictures of women & girls affirming their positions in the world, and to be honest, IWD might easily be my favourite holiday of the year.
The morning of 8th March 17.
I woke up excitedly to check my social media, scrolled through my twitter feed, liked posts, re-tweeted inspiring quotes and I came across this one thread that stayed with me for the rest of my day.
“In honour of IWD: It’s 2017 & the gov’t of Ug still insists it’s female employees mst not wear trousers/brightly coloured dresses or skirts.
“Apparently” trousers define the shape of your body hence destructive to your male colleagues and brightly coloured clothes “seek” attention.
What makes this nonsense “rule” sadder is the fact that it’s enforced by female HRs.”
Her twitter thread had me thinking;
- If women are put in positions where we can change the rules, then why do some women hold us back?
- What’s the correlation between the way a woman dresses and how much work a man gets done at a place of work?
What her twitter story indicates is an example of ‘women policing women’, a paternalistic behaviour that’s still being expressed by some women which is against the will of another woman.
And although I do believe that one’s superiority must be taken into account, I fail to understand how a woman decently dressed in proper work trousers could be the main threat in her place of work taking into account that the dressing isn’t based on religion but on how her dressing will affect her male colleagues.
I do take into account, that different jobs have different requirements, some more vigorously held than others, and people make informed decisions before taking certain jobs well aware of what is required of them as stipulated by their Human Resources. But how a woman’s dressing affects the output of a male colleague at work should not be the reason why a woman shouldn’t wear a decent pair of pants/trousers at her place of work.
On a day such as IWD, I am reminded that we cannot treat self-autonomy and respect for the rights of women in purely sentimentalist terms and that there’s still more work for us to get done.
So, what should we do on a day like IWD?
For a fundamental transformation of our communities, we should reflect, advocate, and act in each of our respective spheres of influence with capability and unrestrained fierceness.
Echoing the words of Nawal El Saadawi an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, “Unity is power; without unity women cannot fight for their rights anywhere.”