Bridging the Gap through Storytelling

Author: Khawar Mahmood

A couple of days back on my long way to office, I came across two very interesting articles on my facebook wall. The first article published in The Express Tribune titled “Pakistan’s youngest social entrepreneur is nine years old” written by Unushay Ashfaq was about a 9 year old Pakistani girl who recently won the Prince Abdul Aziz Award for Children Pioneer/Ecopreneur.  The nine year old Zymal Umar is the founder of an inspiring social project called Zee Bags, an endeavor that not only aims to help the underprivileged but also the environment. This young lady has a vision to clean her city of hazardous plastic bags and replacing them with economical and environment friendly paper bags. The news, if shared on a larger scale to the young and aspiring young girls, can prove to be a beacon of hope for them.

The second article was published in world economic forum titled “3 ways to get more women into leadership positions” written by Carol Li Rafferty, Managing Director, Yale University Beijing. The articles highlight that there are three ways to increase the participation of women in leadership and decision making tier of society. The first and most important key step toward achieving gender balance in leadership is by Women helping Women. It is a moral duty of women in power to advocate for more female representation in all sectors, thereby starting a virtuous cycle of influence. The second important element is Men helping Women, the concept that women should be encouraged and supported by their male family members. Finally the author suggests that this process is not possible until Women help themselves. Suggesting that women themselves should define what their goal in life is and identify the resources that can help them to achieve these ambitions and overcome any obstacles that come along the way.

After reading these articles I spent the whole weekend trying to figure out where the gap lies in our society. On one hand we have brilliant examples such as Zymal and on other hand the percentage of women in leadership and entrepreneurship is incredibly low. According to a research published in World Economic Forum, only 1 out of 10 CEOs is woman. Another research suggests that companies with gender diversity outperform others financially by more than 15%. Below chart depicts a clear picture of why there is this gender gap in workforce.

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What can we do?

After looking at this chart one can easily determine his or her role in reducing gender gap in persisting social setup. To my analysis it is duty of every women entrepreneur to engage more and more women in their circle and encourage them to break old and conventional social barriers to embrace their true goal in life. The success stories of women, breaking gender stereotypes, should be highlighted at every forum to build a more conducive environment for other aspiring young girls. Young girls should be given wider opportunities to observe different career options so that they may have a wider array of choices to opt from, in their professional life. Later, they should be encouraged to boast their confidence to fulfill their aspirations.

On a social level we should try to minimize the “unconscious bias” regarding gender differences. Famous radical feminist Florynce Kennedy once said, “Very few jobs actually require a penis or a vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody.” There should be complete gender neutrality while recruitment in industry. Media is considered as the fourth pillar of state in present times; this important forum should be used at all levels to uphold this issue of national importance.