Women, in public and private spheres
Women’s empowerment and freedom are considered to be directly connected to the employment of women, and it is generally believed that if a woman does a job and is financially independent, the chance of her being exploited on the basis of her gender are minimal. But is it just a theory or is it actually so?
This is a blog from one of our readers, Roheena Sajid from Pakistan. We welcome other readers that would like to write for us.
Is going out of the house and doing a paid job a solution for most of the problems women face compared to when they are financially dependent on their male family members? ‘Yes’ would be the common answer. But the situation is actually not that simple. For some it is true, but certainly not for all.
It is simple not true that working outside the house guarantees a better life for women, or living a life inside the house results in women’s exploitation. I personally know many well-educated women who choose to live as housewives and say that they are very satisfied with the life they are living.
Ayesha (nor her real name), for example, says she is extremely happy with her life. Her husband works to support her financially and she is the house manager. She said that she worked for some local organizations but she was not satisfied with the working conditions. She mentioned sexual harassment and undue demands by the employer. So she decided to leave her job and focus on her kids and family.
Besides Ayesha, I know many women who are living very happy lives at home. They are not working outside their homes and they are loved and cared for by their breadwinners, whether it be a father, brother, husband or son.
Now what about those women who are working in the job market and are thought to be happier than those who are not working outside their homes?
After talking to many working women, I am compelled to change my perception.
When a woman goes to work outside her home, either to support herself or her family or to realize her goals or for whatever reason, she could face difficulty.
There are lots of problems that working women face even in today’s so-called modern world. Sexual harassment remains at the top of the list.
Today’s working women face the worst sexual harassment at their places of work. The perpetrators are not only their co-workers but also their employers, visitors or clients.
There is no job security for most of the jobs women are given. Often they get low-paid jobs such as receptionists, telephone-operators and personal assistants. Most of the highly paid and highly authoritative positions are reserved for men. If, somehow, a woman manages to get a higher position, she is not paid the same as her male counterparts, and her work remains unacknowledged. This makes women “invisible” in the job market at national and international level.
Women’s intellectual ability is often not valued on the job market. They are often hired on the basis of their appearance. That is the main reason that most jobs offered to women do not involve any technical knowledge. By doing such jobs, women end up spending their time doing less important jobs so they cannot develop themselves as prominent professionals. Statistics show that discrimination against women at the workplace is very high.
Human rights organizations keep on claiming that they got legislation approving women’s rights in the workplace. But this legislation hardly affects the women in the job market as these laws are never enforced. And if a woman wants to get her rights, she often has to follow very expensive, time-consuming and frustrating legal procedures. So in the end women feel it is easier to bear the exploitation and and put up with the denial of their rights rather than going to some institution for help.
After seeing all these working conditions for women I believe that not all working women enjoy better lives. Some of them are more exploited than those living their lives inside their homes and remaining dependant on their male family members.
Most working women, especially in developing countries, live their lives in an insecure environment. And they face exploitation as they are more exposed to the public spheres, which is predominantly male-dominated and negatively biased against women.
Discrimination against women is very obvious everywhere. Whether it is in the private sphere or the public domain, women are always the victims. You could say in developed countries, the position of women is a little bit better than in developing countries. But governments of both developed and developing countries have totally failed to provide women with gender-balanced environments.
If we don’t change public attitudes to women, who make up more than 50 percent of the world’s population, I am afraid we will not be able to achieve gender-equality in the world in the decades to come.
Author: Roheena Sajid
Editor: Marjory Linardy
Date03.05.2016 | 8:24