As Barbados prepares to join the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day this Friday, men and women are being urged to continue treating each other with respect.
Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, acknowledged that there are a number of problems facing women in the society and she highlighted one of them as being the lack of respect for themselves and each other.
“Sometimes, they [women] fail to teach their young men how to respect them in the homes and how to respect other women and then it plays out in the wider society. We have to teach our young men and women to respect themselves. Outside of those difficulties, there is still the fight to survive as women and not as sex objects,” Hackett-Codrington declared.
She pointed out that women in Barbados had been accused of entering the workforce and causing problems in their households.
However, the director said: “I beg to differ and I would say that Barbadian women have always worked and, therefore, that should not be blamed on them. Some men think that because women have gained good jobs that they don’t respect them anymore and I beg to differ again. I think that respect is equal, it is due on both sides and it should not be seen as the preserve of men.”
There is also a widely held view that women in senior positions lose their feminine touch, believing there are certain behaviours they should take to their leadership roles, including aggression.
However, Hackett-Codrington said: “We are encouraging what we refer to as transformational leadership, where women do not lose touch with whom they are or how they relate to people, but they use these same skills in leadership to be effective… We tend to not want to behave how we normally would as women because we are fearful that we would not be respected.
“But, I want to encourage women in leadership roles to remember they have special types of intuition that they can use to help them discern the situation they are in and use these to advance themselves in leadership [roles] in their organisation, without becoming rough, overly aggressive or aloof.”
Some people believe that women have improved their lot in life substantially since the commemoration of International Women’s Day in 1909 and there is no longer a need to recognise the day.
However, the director said she did not agree.
“We are noticing internationally, even within the United States, a lot of the gains that women have made over the years are being threatened now by a new trend of thinking…
“And, if you dismiss and say, ‘there is no need for what was helpful in the past’, you can find yourself slipping back. So, you need to keep in focus why the day was introduced and you need to understand its significance for the future… Sometimes, people think that what they have gained on the backs and struggles of others becomes a right and they don’t treat it with the kind of understanding they really should,” she stated.
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