Educate the boys before they become men

Anne Rajasaikaran is the CEO of The Budimas Charitable Foundation and President of HELP College based in Malaysia. She believes that it is important to sensitise men out the challenges that women face at workplace.

What according to you are the successes of gender equality movement which gathered momentum towards the end of the last decade?
To me the gender equality movement has empowered women to truly explore their identity and be who they want to be. It has created an awareness of issues that were previously taboo to discuss. A good example of this is the #metoo movement that gave women an equal footing in which to voice out sexist issues and abusive figures in a male dominated industry. These exact complaints by women went largely ignored prior to the gender equality movement gaining momentum in the last 10 years.

At the start of this decade, what would be your three priorities for gender equal workplaces?
First, allowing an equal platform for growth of men and women based strongly on merit and capability. Second, helping young adults to understand gender equality better. I believe that the younger we can educate them, the more informed they will be about gender discrimination. Last, but not least, having a whistle blower policy or a sexual harassment policy in place that addresses any workplace pressure or intimidation, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator.

How important is the role of men in this movement and what according to you should organisations do to involve them?
Although there has been great strides in gender equality, men still form the largest bulk when it comes to discriminatory issues, as such, it is important to educate boys before they become men so that they can understand their role in ensuring a gender neutral society.

How important is the concept of “Sisterhood” in accelerating change?
Sticking together as a group of tight knit ladies is very important, you serve as a support for each other, you become each other’s confidante and go to person. It is important to have these small groups so you can have an outlet to speak about issues or matters, where you can encourage each other and become the backbone you need.  Change will happen quickly and swiftly when you share these ideas with a group of ladies who share the same views.

Do you think we need a young champion like Greta Thunberg for this cause as well?
We need champions of all ages and kind for this cause, women at any age(s) can make and has made such phenomenal impact in the world. Whilst what Greta did was simply mind blowing, in my opinion we need to encourage more young and older women to stand up for what they think is right. She set the trail on fire and lit up the way for many others to learn and follow suit. Age is just a number but the ability and the drive to make a difference, changes everything.

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