If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

Posted 25 Feb 2011 by Walaa Idris

Women are a very important part of any society and their contributions in it are vital for its balance and equilibrium – because women see things form a different prospective and experiences to men. Therefore their input in business, politics and commerce gives the outcome of any decision a more rounded view, which makes the results richer, more rational and inclusive.

Through the years women in the work place were treated as second best and because of it, more than men ever had to, women had to work harder to achieve everything. To excel, many had to turn negatives into positives to prove themselves and shine in almost every field. That’s why those ladies who come up through the ranks are usually better than most men with similar abilities in similar fields. It is also what made women like my mother very proud and extremely motivated to be the best they can possibly be at whatever they to go after.

Does it pain me that women make half of the population but not half of every boardroom, directorship or even our parliament? No, it does not, because the ones who want to make it and can make it always find a way to do so. Because a large number of women don’t work 100% of their working life climbing the ladder of success, and because the ones who make it on some special equality project will never fully feel equal or be equal. To put a quota, number and a time scale, by which women are expected to reach the boardroom is unnatural – and dare I say detrimental to equality, aspiration and good old fashion determination and hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a very ambitious woman, and those who know me will attest to that. I come from a line of pioneering high achieving women. For example, my mother is the first woman to earn a PhD, the first female central bank officer, the first woman to demand equal pay and get it and the first woman in Africa and the Middle East to become general manger for a conglomerate, could have been the first Secretary of Finance but she turned it down to build the first ever social-enterprise, plus she achieved it all that before the age of 40 in Africa.

Her only advice to us (my sister and I): “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” That’s why I believe we make our own success.

Of course the government have a role in that it should regulate against all types of discrimination in the work place, in pay packages and in the availability of training, mentoring and support for all people of all abilities to excel – but it’s not the job of government to regulate or dictate gender balance.

Naturally there will be some women who feel they need some kind of special treatment and intervention to get up the ladder and will welcome Lord Davies’ proposal. However I wonder, can these women look equally qualified male co-workers in the eye and say they are better than them, plus, what will they tell their daughters and nieces?

The Davies’ proposal might look good on paper but in reality it’s nothing but window dressing quota filling, any woman worth her salt will not want to be tarred by it.

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