BBC debates gender equality

There was gender equality in its panel –  three women and as many men.  The BBC World Debate in New Delhi  focused on the question whether gender equality is achievable in work place ? Consensus  was,  ‘ yes, but not anytime soon’.

Panelists : Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi ;  ICICI Bank chief  Chanda Kochhar ;  Obama’s envoy for global women’s issues  Melanne Verveer ;  and  Suhel Seth,  said to be New Delhi’s much sought after party guest,  and,  presumably,  most-invited  TV panelist ;   Renault and Nissan CEO  Carlos Ghosn ; and show host BBC’s  Nik Gowing,  who  gave equal opportunity for them to address the issue. What they said:

Ms. Nooyi:  What do we mean by gender equality ? Is it men-women employment on  50-50 basis,  or  equal recognition of their work?  Does it refer to peer respect for women in work place? Gender equality  is hard to define. She reckoned that  in many societies women are not given a choice  to work.

Ms Kochhar:  Employers need to address issues such as  maternity benefits. This assumes importance in ICICI bank,  where  80 percent of  women employees are below 30. As a woman, and working mother,  she says she considers  it  a privilege to be able to handle both roles. It is a 24 hr. job.

Mr.Ghosn :  Gender equality entailed men sharing responsiblities on the home front as well. Why not encourage male employees to take care of baby  by granting paternity leave and other benefits ?  Yes,  gender parity is achievable in the long term.

Mr Seth:  In the long-term we are all dead. To get anywhere on gender equality we need to look at the status of women beyond their work place. Viewed in this light the issue relates to gender respect.  There can be no gender equality without a mindset change in society.

Mr Vijay Malya:  Kingfisher commemorated the International  Women’s Day with flights that had  all-women crew.  He saw it as a matter of visibility of women in male-dominent fields. He refers to car racing says it would serve as role model for others, if we can identify  a woman Formula 1 driver.

Those of us who watched the debate may not have become any wiser on the status of  gender parity.  But then it is an  issue  that perhaps  needs to be hammered in,  on an ongoing basis in seminars, workshops and  TV talk shows.

At the end of it my thoughts were : 1) Can we  think of a women who can match up  to  Suhel Seth in TV appearances  as a  stock panelist ?   Kiren Bedi, maybe  ?

2) And why can’t  BBC think of holding a gender issue debate in Saudi Arabia ?


2 Responses

  1. Periodically, the TV channels put up colourful discussion shows which hold viewers attention, but never really go beyond filling new byte-wine in old bottles. At the end of the show, the only concrete statement made – every time- is that there are no easy or absolute solutions to end gender disparity in society.
    Apples are apples, pears are pears . And there is no reason why they should be treated alike. Humanity lies in appreciating the values of each , respecting the difference and nurturing individual strenghths.
    The idea of “parity ” cannot be force-fed. it should blossom organically in every individual’s mind from babyhood. our ingrained traditions get passed on unconsciously down the generations influencing not only men to view women as second-grade humans, but also women themselves to think of themselves as inferior and somehow cheated of opportunities, thus limiting their enterprise.
    Women should first get rid of their complexes and stop waiting for the enigmatic chimera called “Equality” to be handed to us by men. We dont need a donor. Its there for the taking. We should know ourselves first and aspire to fill our potential. The oft repeated story of Sudha Murthy wresting employment at Tatas is inspirational.

    As i see it, “wanting to be like a man” only show’s a woman’s lack of ambition.
    (BTW, why does Mallya think a maniacal game like F1 should be some sort of a goal for women too ; Just because it is said to be the ultimate adrenalin rush? Typical male thought ! Women have a lot other avenues to express themselves and get a rush too, thank you )

  2. Q : “And why can’t BBC think of holding a gender issue debate in Saudi Arabia ?”
    A: Because the BBC knows we can talk to people, not to fossils.

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