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Gender Inequalities in the Workplace: Don’t Give Up the Fight

By Paola Salwan, Programme Assistant for Africa, Middle East and Europe at the World YWCA and Co-Founder of the blog Café Thawra

Everyone remembers Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, wearing her sharp suit, trading sneakers for high heels as she enters her office, struggling to reach the top in the corporate jungle.


With her determination to defend her idea and her position, she became the symbol of women, women that dared to venture in the male-dominated area of the workplace, and even fight back when attacked by abusive bosses.


Oh, how bad we all wanted to become high-powered women, women passionate about their work, who are not belittled, whose ideas are take into account. Women paid as much as men, and who do not have fits pf panic if they get pregnant, for fear of being fired or “replaced”.


I guess my generation grew up being spoilt by all the statements we heard while growing. All this Spice Girls thing and Girl Power could not be good for us. It mislead us into thinking that women, and what’s more, young women, were the newly appointed darlings of the workplace, and that the only thing we had to do was to study and work hard to be able to be competitive on the work market and be hired and promoted based on our merits.


Allow me here to quote one of my favourite author, Irish author Marian Keyes, when speaking on the subject of feminism and women in the workplace:


“It took a mortifyingly long time for it to dawn on me that actually all the hard work had not been done, and that now everyone was not lovely and equal. Not even slightly. It happened one afternoon when I was fighting through a throng of grey suits in the business-class section of a plane. Suddenly I wondered: where are all the women in their red lipstick and sheer tights? Nowhere to be seen. (Because they were stuck in the office, providing secretarial back up, drinking cup-a-soup, painting the run in their sheer tights with nail varnish because they couldn’t afford to buy new ones.”

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