Women for women

Faria Rashid
PATRIARCHAL societies like to deceive women into thinking that women cannot get along, work together and stand in support of one another. Given the patriarchal history of society, it has mostly worked to keep women in their places and apart from each other. This is why we hear so much about women against women,
but not that much about women supporting women. Today, on International Women’s Day, I will highlight some of the ways women can, and do, support other women.
Recognising significance of sisterhood
IT IS said that we cannot choose our families, but we can choose our friends. I am thankful that it is the case. My female friends are my chosen sisters. It is important for every woman to have meaningful connections that keep us grounded and feel supported. Female friendships are far from the catty relationships that are
often exhibited in popular culture and media. I second what Roxane Gay said in her book Bad Feminist: ‘Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to slow women down.’
Allyships can be developed at workplaces as well. Research shows that three in four women experience different kinds of biases at work, including being passed over for jobs and promotions. Women with traditionally marginalised identities, especially because of skin colour or ethnicity, LGBTQ+ women and women with
disabilities face more acute biases. Yet, only one in three employees, including managers, challenges such biased behaviours when they experience or see it. Women, who are in decision-making positions, need to challenge such biases and take meaningful actions towards progressing gender equality at workplaces.
Combating the biases women face at workplaces is critical to get things right.
Building confidence
WOMEN can support other women by helping them to silence the noise of negative self-talk and self-doubt, by showing confidence in each other and by supporting them to gain confidence so that women’s fates are not determined by their circumstances only. Confident women do not question their abilities and qualities;
rather, they shine bright and constantly work on themselves to find more reasons and ways to celebrate their lives, light, love and purposes. Only the women who are confident in their own skin can genuinely celebrate others. Complimenting each other and giving one another credit for a job well done, for trying one’s best
or for having good intention — all this can go a long way to boost confidence.
Supporting in challenging situations
WOMEN need to support women more, and not shame each other. I cannot emphasise enough on the power that comes from having a peer-support group. Finding the right female mentors can be a life-changing experience. Women who are older and have more lived experiences should share their valuable insights for
the benefit of other women while having an open mind to learn from their mentees as well. Media and popular culture teach us that women need to be cold-hearted or mean to succeed. It is high time we busted this mean-girl myth and ditched such attitudes. Women can support each other to find solutions to different
kinds of problems by sharing their lived experiences and life lessons. They can get together to brainstorm solutions. Women who have certain privileges need to understand that their privileges grant them certain kinds of power to create positive changes. They need to use their privileges for the benefit of other women.
At workplaces, the responsibility of encouraging women to raise their concerns and helping them to get their due shares mostly lies with those who are already at the top. Peers can also support each other by collaborating collectively instead of competing against each other. In this way, women are more likely to get what
they want and deserve on their own terms.
Believing other women’s stories
THROUGHOUT history, women have brought about monumental changes and societal shifts by organising as a single powerful force. In the recent past, we have seen some powerful moments, such as the #MeToo movement, that showed women that they need to believe in each other and support each other to speak up
and stand up for themselves. It becomes possible for patriarchal forces to oppress women only when women do not believe women.
For instance, at workplaces, if every woman responds negatively to misogynistic humour and speaks out against all forms of harassment and abuse, whether it is happening to one’s self or to their peers, this will lead towards creating workplaces that are free of abuse and harassment. There is a Latin phrase: Qui tacet
consentiré videtur. It means ‘silence gives consent.’ When we say nothing and do nothing when it comes to injustice towards women, we are consenting to injustice.
Celebrating outliers
PATRIARCHAL societies as well as colonisers have always taught us to behave and do things in certain ways, putting pressure on us to follow the dominant culture, stay at the centre and not shake the status quo. Such rules have always been more strictly applicable for women, one of the segments of society most
discriminated against. At homes and workplaces and in societies in general, women often have to live with subconscious fears of either being labelled ‘too nice’ for being agreeable or ‘too aggressive’ for being opinionated. It takes enormous courage to go against the tide, break the norms and set our own rules. The
women who are ahead of the time are forging the path forward for other women to follow and, perhaps, travel more comfortably in the future. Women need to appreciate such rule-breakers and trendsetters who work towards positive changes. Such rebellious women are struggling and challenging traditional and cultural
norms every day. They are trying to make the path easier to follow for future generations.
I will say this again: women supporting women can be a powerful tool to fight for everything that women deserve, and to fight against sexism, racism, misogyny, patriarchy and more. Let us affirm today that we, the women, are enough exactly the way we are. If we can nurture the right attitude, we can stop fighting against
other women. Let us thrive towards creating a sisterhood by asking at least one woman today what they need to feel supported. Let us keep the sisterhood alive by supporting women the way they need.

Faria Rashid is a human rights activist advocating for women empowerment, gender equity and refugee rights.

Originally published as Women for women

Related News

Why collaboration is in our collective interest

ViewsRMG NOTESClimate ActionWithout fashion retailers and their suppliers working together, our industry as a whole will continue to see emissions rising. Mostafiz Uddin According to the latest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world is likely to fail to reach its most ambitious climate target – limiting global warming to ... Read more

Will our universities survive in 25 years?

Views Syed Saad Andaleeb Quality education is the backbone of a wholesome and prosperous society. But finding the “quality” in quality education continues to be elusive in Bangladesh. The “so called” universities (more like community colleges) are rife with social, economic, political and ideological problems that work against building learning organisations. Teachers, the kingpins, don ... Read more

Can teachers be the pivot of change in education?

Views Manzoor Ahmed “No system of education can be better than its teachers” is an aphorism that remains meaningful. The nostalgic and idealised image of the teacher as a scholar, dispensing knowledge and wisdom to the young selflessly, who lives a simple life with little concern for material rewards and who is looked upon by ... Read more

Climate loss and damage are clearly visible in southwest Bangladesh

Views Ashish Barua, Sawkat Chowdhury The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) by Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the sea level, over the last 120 years, has increased by 0.20 metres, and continues rising fast, caused by thermal expansion, glacier ice loss, ice sheet loss, etc. The sea level ... Read more

How can Dhaka solve its traffic problem?

Views Debra Efroymson If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that “traffic was particularly bad today,” I could have retired already. Over the years, people have hazarded various suggestions as to the cause of the terrible Dhaka traffic and its potential solutions. Causes include: not enough roads for all the cars; poor ... Read more

Celebrating 50 years of global environmental movement

Opinion Saleemul Huq The global environmental movement started in 1972, with the first global environment conference held in Stockholm, Sweden, hosted by then Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. Among the heads of governments who also attended was the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who famously declared that environment and poverty were two major global issues ... Read more

Saving earth from disasters

Opinion By Md Zillur Rahaman TODAY is World Earth Day. The day is celebrated worldwide each year to show support for the protection of the environment. It was first observed in 1970 and is now held globally by the Earth Day Network. The UN-sponsored conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 3 to June 14, ... Read more

CSR and a new order of business

From being seen as mere philanthropy and ‘doing good’, corporate social responsibility is now at the heart of business sustainability and ethical and accountable corporate behaviour Bitopi Das Chowdhury CSR or corporate social responsibility has been a buzz phrase for quite some time now. Not a day goes by without it being mentioned, albeit in ... Read more

Harmful impacts of cartels on consumers

Munshi Abdul Ahad A cartel is an anti-competitive arrangement between two or more competing businesses. Anticompetitive agreements, particularly cartels, harm consumers in urbanised society, as well as in the emerging countries. In adding together, cartelised industrial sectors lack competition which certainly reduces competitiveness in the long run and may have a negative impact on the ... Read more

How to troubleshoot the economy

Sadiq Ahmed Bangladesh is facing serious macroeconomic challenges and I have written a lot explaining them in a series of articles published in The Daily Star and in The Financial Express. In this new article I am going to write specifically about how Bangladesh could address those challenges while also mobilising substantial external financing in ... Read more

Jute bag prospects in global arena

Md Rashedul Karim Munna Global consumer demand for eco-friendly products has increased in both developed markets (such as Western Europe, the United States and Australasia) as well as new markets with emerging opportunities (such as the Middle East) mainly because of heightened awareness of the ill effects of environmental pollution and global warming. Large chain ... Read more

Safeguarding citizen’s money

Sadiq Ahmed Banking is an entirely different ball game. When a licence is given to a bank to manage citizen’s money, the government is taking on a huge responsibility. By granting the licence, it is essentially certifying that it has confidence in the enterprise and trusts that the enterprise will safeguard the citizen’s money it ... Read more

Women entrepreneurship and our commitment

Tarique Afzal for The Daily Star “Entrepreneur” is a French word that means “undertake”. Women entrepreneurship is inherent as they are naturally endowed with the qualities of entrepreneurship. Instincts of a woman generate enormous strength and determination that drive the fear away from them. Entrepreneurship for a woman remains an innate quality and thus is ... Read more

Managing macroeconomy

Sadiq Ahmed for The Daily Star Bangladesh has achieved good economic performance over the past few years. It has successfully managed the transition from the global financial crisis of 2008-10 with relatively modest slowdown in economic activity. Economic growth has recovered and official data suggest that growth is on the upswing. While there is some ... Read more

Organisational culture

Mamun Rashid From an academic perspective, we can look at the way Edgar Schein, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defines organisational culture as ‘a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well ... Read more

The organisational machine

Sarwar Ahmed What is an organisation? As you reach for Wikipedia in today’s digital world, you have access to a whole repertory of knowledge for free. An organisation is a social arrangement that pursues collective goals, controls its own performance, and has a boundary separating it from its environment. An organisation consists of people who ... Read more

Women and workplace dilemma

Mamun Rashid I recently wrote a piece for The Daily Star business section on our lady colleagues. As usual, I received a few e-mails and phone calls. One of them was from a younger friend of mine, working for a regional conglomerate. He thought I did not do enough justice to the male colleagues, while ... Read more

A great leap in training

Mahmudur Rahman Technical and vocational education and training has come a long way. Once the mere acquiring of basic skills was considered enough to address the demand for technical expertise. Times and demands have changed. But in an age when emphasis is placed on technical competencies, especially in blue-collar jobs, Bangladesh faces a challenge. Parents, ... Read more

The black swan

Sarwar Ahmed It was a chilly April morning when Fakhruzaman, my Bangladeshi colleague who works for Syngenta in Europe, drove me for a sightseeing tour through the idyllic English countryside near Cambridge. We stopped over for some tea and muffins in a restaurant next to a small river. White swans floated on the cold water ... Read more

Chindia policy to boost domestic trade

Chindia policy to boost domestic trade Kingshuk Nag When the G7 was formed in 1976 as a major economic and political group of the seven largest industrialised nations, not even the optimistic of soothsayers would have predicted that 23 years later in Pittsburg, USA, the G20 would dethrone G8 as the primary council of wealthy ... Read more