Can we have it all? A Humanist Issue – Not a Gender Issue!


‘So I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented at all levels of the work force. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.’

I would go as far to say that Anne Marie Slaughter has inspired me through her TEDtalk just as much as Sheryl Sandberg in her [EPIC] speech on ‘Why We Have So Few Women Leaders’. Not only does Slaughter address the issues facing work-life balance & gender inequality, but she rightly acknowledges the importance of the role of family and how work-policy & societal norms have rendered the home as second-rate to the work place. Here are a few random thoughts I had whilst listening:

Coming from an Indian-background [full of cultural controversies], I find the dynamics of home decision-making extremely interesting. Anne Marie claims that in most cultural norms, Men are considered the primary breadwinners and Women, the caregivers. Ironically, in the same cultures, and more-so in developing countries, patriarchal family dynamics allow Men to be at the helm of decision making in the home. [I haven’t referenced this, however i’m sure you wouldn’t disagree!] This means that, although women are the primary care-givers, Men are in charge of family expenditure and therefore decisions on health, education and the futures of their children. Something doesn’t quite add up!

I also love the fact that Anne Marie recognises the pressures on Men to be the breadwinners and the increasing ability of Women to choose their positions at home and at work. It’s like the reverse of Caitlin Moran’s checklist on inequality & sexism, number one of which is, ‘Are the men worrying about this?’. Instead, Women are increasingly being championed when they succeed in either realms of family or work, whilst Men are reduced to one option of what it means to be a Man.

Lastly, I believe the over-arching issue at play is the responsibility of businesses in the wider society and as the creators of work-culture. Are businesses accountable to their employees and therefore the wider society? Or are they only answerable to their shareholders? As a believer in corporate responsibility and social mobility, I think that businesses have a responsibility to ALL of these agents, equally. As employers of individuals that strive to balance their lives, businesses should champion the flexible strategies that allow both Men and Women to excel together in both work and home. At the same time, these qualities should be valued by shareholders. This is important for the business, for employees and for future generations.

As a young women who is extremely far from making these decisions, I am already thinking about the issues that may effect myself and my future family/career. It’s more scary that I am considering these issues than the fact that these issues exist in the first place! I believe this is a sure sign that the paradigm we currently live in needs to shift away from the militant work-culture and towards a healthier [and evidently more successful] flexible norm.

Over & Out.

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FGM: Frighteningly Gruesome Mentalities.

An issue that first hit my computer screen during my time in 6th form, was an issue that still sends shivers down my spine and boils my blood. It was through reading about such a practice that I realised how truly horrible culture and social convention can be to those who are, globally, most likely to be marginalized. It is all in this 3-word phrase:

Female. Genital. Mutilation.

a.k.a. female circumcision. I won’t bother with a full description of what it entails, as most of that information (and to be fair the views on this post) will be readily available on wiki. After reading a description, i’m sure all the women reading this will be crossing their legs and thanking their respective Higher Powers for being born in a modern or forward-looking culture.

You may start to question the very concept of cultural practices when you realise such a ritual exists. It is widely known and accepted, albeit very unfortunate, that girls in developing countries are married young, poorly educated and forced into early motherhood. However, I believe that FGM is the worst part of this social convention. It subjects girls to the most terrible forms of gender inequality through an act that does ALL harm and NO good. What does the ritual symbolise?

  • It symbolises the inferiority of Women and their duty to conform to their patriarch’s ideologies in all circumstances.
  • It represents a hypocrisy regarding sexual behaviour, whereby women should fear intimacy. It is seen as a prevention of premarital sex in communities where rape and abuse is all but uncommon.
  • It suggests it is acceptable for women’s health and lives to be compromised at the expense of cultural ideals.

At 8 years old, I was playing with my Barbie doll. At 10, I was studying to get into Grammar School. At 12, I met some of my best friends. At the same time, another 8 year old was having her clitoris publicly slit. At 10, she was married. At 12, she more than likely died in childbirth.

The purpose of this post was for awareness. Please take the time to read http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/ for a better explanation of what FGM entails and represents.
Over and out.

Inspiring TEDtalks – Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong!

Currently sitting on a busy train and decided to start my first (real) blog entry…

I want to share a video with you, which became the turning point for me to start adoseofpersonalwhim. It basically sums up everything I believe about social enterprise, philanthropy and alternative career paths.


Dan Pallotta is probably one of the most engrossing speakers that I have found through TEDtalks. He stresses the importance of business strategy in the non-profit sector, and that it should (in many respects) use for-profit sector models to achieve results and the big bucks.

I will leave you to listen and won’t give too much away… However I would like to make a few comments on my favourite ideas and on the criticms that that Dan Pallotta recieved for the ideas he shared.

Firstly, many of the criticisms revolve around how the for-profit sector strategies would ruin social enterprise and turn them into a business, forgetting the cause.. However these people clearly havn’t really listened to what Dan is saying.
To quote, “When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising, you can’t raise more revenue. If you can’t raise more revenue, you can’t grow. And if you can’t grow, you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”

It’s the passion for a cause, mixed with the business strategy, that leads to results – not just a profit maximisation mentality. What I think is really important to realise is that if you start making these claims now, social enterprise will never take off… We aren’t at that stage yet where we need to worry about it – first let the firms take off and reel in the money for their cause on a large scale. Then, start regulating and changing things to make social progress sustainable.

Pessimism is the thief of success.

Secondly, something quite relevant to me, is Dan’s views on students and their perceptions of their own careers… He pins down perfectly the dilemma of socially passionate students who would love to apply their knowledge to the non-profit sector but feel that doing so would leave them worse of than their degree qualified them to be. To quote Dan – ‘it becomes a sacrafice between the wellbeing of their family or the wellbeing of the world…’. This is definitely how a number of students across a disciplines feel about their place in the Global arena.

So to conclude, although I am not an expert on the non-profit sector, I do know a bit about the problems my generation face when approaching the world of social enterprise. I thoroughly recommend you watch his TEDtalk and realise the potential of non-profit and philanthropy.

Over and out!