In several conversations with people working in media field (my field currently), well educated and experienced people from different countries in MENA, they actually uttered the words: Women are not meant to lead, they are not fit to handle managerial positions! And I thought to myself: If such people who were lucky to know much 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.
As the usual habit of not accepting other opinions in this region, they were not even accepting a discussion about it. The sad thing was that among these 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 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 cold blooded murderers like dictators. In the discussions, I said that I worked for many incompetent and jerk 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 same viewpoint, women are seen as intimidating when they show wit, stamina and courage in decision making and doing their jobs 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 women organizations created by the women related to dictators and men in power. We need to empower women on micro-social level.
Such a conversation made me realize how women in MENA must walk a long long way to at least change the social mentality about them, respect their choices and freedoms.
What a disappointing conversation I found myself in.