International Women’s Day 2022: Breaking the Gender Bias

Hello woman, Happy International Women’s Day 2022! 

Here’s a question: what comes to mind when you hear the word “bias”? Honestly, it pisses me off. 

This year’s IWD theme is #BreakTheBias and personally, it begs the question: how have we taken so long to break biases in 2022? It’s 21st century this, and “unprecedented times of modern tech” that, but archaic stereotypes kept in place for hundreds of years have yet to be shattered completely across the world. 

All these years, women have lived alongside cruel biases that not only stole opportunities to build forward and bring change to society but endanger their lives to the point of death. 

But let’s not go too far just yet. We managed to talk to 3 women at Recommend.my on their experiences with gender bias throughout their lives. 

For Aashita, our 29-year-old digital marketing analyst, she was lucky enough to never have felt much gender bias except culturally.

“You have to get married at a particular age and settle down. It’s the same for men too but for women, it’s more”, she says. 

“It’s the same for men too but for women, it’s more.”

– Aashi

She also said that when every parent and family members urge girls to be careful or advise against being out too late, it feels like a bias too due to the poor standards of women’s safety in public. 

Alexis, our 29-year-old interior designer, also knows gender bias all too well in her line of work. “At certain bigger sites I’ve visited before, while walking in they look at me like “Oh there’s a chick coming over” and I get uncomfortable”. 

The bias even contributed to not being taken seriously. A recent incident she recounts was when she faced a condo management staff (an older man) regarding a complaint to stop construction works despite having approval documents to proceed. 

He held a condescending tone to speak down to her and brushed off any attempts of her justifying the situation. 

“I called the client afterwards to ask her to handle it. Since the client was busy, she asked her father to make the call instead. When the manager spoke to the client’s dad, he immediately defended himself saying he wasn’t rude to me at all. Right after, he allowed us to resume our work”. 

For Mona, our 33-year-old admin, every day at home was fighting against a bias. 

“In a relationship or in the family, the man’s voice always comes first and then it’s the woman’s. Our voice is a second option.” 

“Our voice is a second option.”

Mona

“Even within our [traditional Indian] culture when it comes to leaving the house, women have to ask permission and explain where we’re going and what time we’re coming back, but men don’t have to. They never ask any questions, they never get phone calls asking what time they’re coming home.” 

The same goes for asking for a favour or making arrangements for something, it’s always assumed that women will just do it regardless of their prior commitments or work during the day; whereas the same cannot be said about men. “They will just assume you will do it.”

These behaviours can be as little as making a slight comment on what women do, controlling their lives and daily activities. The act of breaking against these biases wasn’t too difficult for these women either.

“I was never restricted from doing whatever I wanted. I’m grateful to my dad and the men in my life for nurturing me to believe I could conquer the world”, Aashita says. 

For Alexis, it always felt good to stand up for herself while working in an industry dominated by men. “I need to go out and negotiate deals with contractors and make decisions on-site, so when men see me they tend to treat me in a belittling way by saying things like “You’re sure ah? Like this ah? Okay, fine we do it your way”. I’m the designer so I know what I want and I put my foot down”. 

“…I know what I want and I put my foot down.”

– Alexis

In Mona’s case, there’s always the culture-based bias of women needing to be dependent on men for everything. They can’t be “left alone to fend for themselves”. “I remember one time when it was late around 11 PM and my husband was working late as well. Instead of waiting for him, I just got into a bus and went home. I didn’t want to depend on others.”

Hearing these stories by these 3 ladies might make you think “Maybe it’s not that bad?”

However, all throughout 2021 (and history), this same bias has spun nightmares for women across the globe

Since August last year, Taliban rule in Kabul single-handedly desecrated women’s rights to education, destroyed gadgets and learning materials, mandated their dress code, tortured, raped and killed countless Afghani women. 

In April 2021, the case of 17-year-old student Ain calling out the revolting behaviour by her male teacher making rape jokes with boys in her classroom. It resulted in her getting bombarded with hateful, threatening comments by other teachers, parents and students alike. 

The 2009 case of Indira Gandhi and her missing daughter continues to receive updates leading nowhere as the PDRM fails to locate her ex-husband who converted their children without her consent and abducted the child to this day. 

A story similar to this came to light in Perlis last February with Hindu mother Loh Siew Hong who struggled to locate her 3 children for 3 years after her abusive ex-husband converted their religion without her knowledge. This one, fortunately, ends with her reunion with them.

But not many are as fortunate to receive equal justice as Loh Siew Hong. Not many can say they were lucky enough to never have felt outrageous discrimination in their lives, like the women at Recommend.my. Not many can stand up and say “I broke the bias”.

To the woman reading this, when you’re thinking of #BreakTheBias, remember every little step counts to making us an equal.

Every move we make as proud, loving, resilient, and hard-headed women are breaking the bias. 

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