Saturday, June 05, 2004

Hope for womankind

This I found on the Arab news. How many men here think as he does, this I don't really know. But personally I thought the fact that he had only one child and that being a daughter, is an anomaly. Kudos to him and hope that if more people do think like him in this country, there might be hope for womankind here!§ion=0&article=46288&d=5&m=6&y=2004

‘I’ve Lost My Daughter!’
Tariq A. Al-Maeena,

Hisham called me up the other day in a rather perturbed state of mind. A middle-aged man whose roots are in Jeddah, Hisham is a father of an only child, a daughter who just turned 23. The source of his anxiety, it seems, was that his offspring had decided to move to a neighboring Gulf state to pursue her professional career.

A recent graduate of media and communications from Stanford University in California, his daughter had decided to call it quits in her job search in the local market. I suggested we meet over a cup of coffee to discuss this further.

That evening, Hisham began by imploring me to highlight in one of my columns this disturbing trend whereby Saudi graduates are giving up hope of finding suitable jobs and looking to nearby countries. “Get off the political bandwagon for a while and focus on this social issue. I am not getting younger, and the thought of my only child leaving me through no fault of her own is causing me and my wife a great deal of concern,” he added.

“But Hisham, there seem to be plenty of employment opportunities here for the qualified, from what I see. Besides, only last week there was an announcement of a nine-point plan approved by the government to create more jobs and allow more opportunities for women. I sense the government is serious about it.”

“Yes Tariq, the government may take such steps, but who is going to implement these laws?

Bureaucrats who sit on issues for years until they are dead and buried or long forgotten? You should know better. How many laws have been passed over the years, and how many of them have been actually carried out?”

I had to nod my head in agreement. I have to add that we have one of the slowest and most ineffectual bureaucracies around, one that inherently promotes frustration rather than execution. And judging from their success so far, an unproductive group of civil servants has grown in numbers due to a lack of public accountability.

“Besides, Tariq, my daughter did try. She knocked on many doors. But the media outlets here are limited in scope and imagination, and even more limited when it comes to women.

Saudi women have proven time and again that they are far more efficient than their male counterparts, but the ‘she can’t do this, she can’t do that’ attitude that prevails in the minds of these dull-minded men has resulted in very meager offerings.

“For a young qualified graduate ready to take on the world, it was very depressing and disheartening to have to go through this kind of mental abuse. And all because of her gender. Why did I bother to educate her, I’m beginning to wonder. For her to be told that?

“And while it pains me to see her leave, I now want her to go. To soar with eagles rather than be shot down like clay pigeons. And if she falters, we will be there to help her fly again.”

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