Choose To Challenge

Today the world is celebrating International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge.

A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.

So let’s all choose to challenge.

IWD is done every year to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness from the long-standing fight for gender equality.

Even in modern times, it is still hard to break gender stereotypes. It is still not possible for a woman, not to be looked upon. Such a wonderful world we live in.

Earlier in my career, when I was still a waitress, I told my manager that I would like to be promoted as a team leader. He told me that I was competing with two other guys for the position but he challenged me to show what I can do and he will evaluate my performance.

It was a fun time. The competition was healthy and I firmly believe that my performance was at par, even though I was the most junior among the three of us in terms of years of service in the company. I was hopeful that it won’t matter. But I didn’t expect, that it wasn’t really the matter.

The time has come to let us know how well we performed and who will get the promotion. There were only two slots. So one will definitely be out.

My manager told me, that since I’m a woman, they’d promote me as a Hostess instead of a Team Leader because that’s more suitable for me. But that’s not what I wanted and that’s not what I thought was suitable for me. He explained to me the benefits of becoming a hostess, that I won’t be physically tired (but I don’t care, I was young and fit), that I could easily get a cross-training and move to Front Office (but who said I wanted to move to Front Office?) and that it’s a good promotion for me too (well thank you! Really appreciate it but that’s not really what I wanted!).

I was furious at that time but I couldn’t do anything because they already decided about what they wanted. I don’t know if they really didn’t see me fit to be a Team Leader and I would have accepted that better than to tell me that I am a woman, so they gave me what they thought was more suitable for me. It boiled me to the core. That wasn’t fair.

It happened a long time ago and I hope that now, my previous managers do not pre-determine which job fits someone because of gender.  If they didn’t pre-decide for me, my career could have probably taken a different course but of course, I cannot complain now because I am in a better position.

Working here on a tiny Maldivian island with a population of 90% men, I am proud to say that my ideas and opinions are valued and so far, no one has discriminated against me because of my gender.

Change does not happen overnight but the fight is on and I hope that in time, we can walk into a world free from gender biases.

And to all the beautiful women out there, Happy International Women’s Day!

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