Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 63, Wednesday September 21, 2005





On defining a male dominated world

Competence and capability are your tickets to survival. If you want to stay afloat in the rat-race of today's high strung, high paced world then these two attributes should be thoroughly ingrained in your system. It simply makes no difference whether you are a male or female; only the competent should lead.

However the positive discrimination or conscious preferences to give women the chance or platform they missed out on, to bring them on equal standing with men, made us women do some soul searching. Whether we want to be given preference just because of our sex or whether we really deserved it- was the debate. While all would agree that women needed the chance to actually campaign for themselves and their talents, some are now also putting forward the question of aptitude over gender.

In fact it is just as odd to see an incompetent man given the best of opportunities, as it will if the job was given to a woman, not capable of doing it either. Ultimately qualifications matter and not gender.

While talking to the country's first Bangladeshi woman to hold qualification in both Chartered Accountancy (CA) and Cost and Management Accountancy (CMA) Akhtar Sanjida Kasem, this line of thought became prominent.

"My profession is not a male-dominated career path by choice. This profession is by tradition male-dominated simply because more males are into the profession, so they are visible. Discrimination is not intentional here; in fact accounting is a pro-woman job. It is more suitable for us because it demands a sound and stable head. In this field there is a lot of opportunities for women, it is not yet saturated, and moreover the donor agencies or NGO as part of their gender policy, want women. So basically there is a demand for women chartered accountants without a corresponding supply of capable women aiming for the job," Kasem puts it matter-of-factly.

Sanjida Kasem has been practicing as a Partner of A. Qasem & Co. (AQC) Chartered Accountants since 1994. AQC is the oldest and one of the largest professional accounting firms in the country, having completed 50 years of practice in 2003. She is the only woman audit practitioner in the country.

She feels very strongly about young girls in our country who misuse the opportunity to educate themselves and end up making the wrong choices in life.

"Public education in Bangladesh is the cheapest compared to any place in the world. I think all girls should educate themselves first because it is only through education that the power to earn and spend comes. Unless you do so, your own life becomes a waste and you stay at a mediocre level all through."

Women are the rebels. Society puts men in an advantageous position so they have no reason to go up against it, thus the society make men more conservative at heart. Only recently with more and more women joining the professional world, men on principle are beginning to be supportive of gender equality but on a micro level or task level there is still no action.

"For instance when I am off on a tour, I need to know that my spouse will take care of my child, take him to school, sit with his home tasks and read to him at night. I am extremely lucky that my spouse is a modern man and he practices equality in action also but I know many of my contemporaries cannot do a job because the support system is an absolute vacuum for them. This saddens me. In our country where literacy rate is low, educated women with excellent qualification are opting to be stay-at-home moms simply because the men in her world are still mean," Kasem explains quite passionately.

Society from the very beginning does not teach men sensitivity as a result they remain pampered and selfish throughout life and fail to appreciate the other half of their world.

"I must say it again that only through competence can women come out of this so called male-dominated world and make it their own."

By Raffat Binte Rashid

Reader's chit

Books are Back...

If Harry Potter came to Dhaka he'd think he's a national hero. And why not? With his name (Harry Fottar) being called out on every road of the city, it wouldn't be a real surprise. There can be no doubt about the popularity of this fictional teen wizard, but JK Rowling has achieved far more than just fame and fortune with her Potter series: she has brought life to the forgotten habit of reading amongst many who previously ran away from even a page of written word. Following in the success of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Dan Brown fever is currently sweeping through town. And in full force too.

It's sad how often all people end up reading regularly are telephone bills. Then there are those who don't find time or can't find books they like at affordable prices. Well, all that is about to change. A look out of a car window will be enough to learn which books are in everybody's reading list these days: bestsellers like The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress sell like hot cake on the roads. Even though the reasonable prices for these books are partly responsible, it does come at the expense of piracy; but that's a whole other issue.

For those willing to pay the price, the latest originals are available at the hip new book stores that have opened up all over town. The survival of the likes of Etc and Words n Pages goes on to show that all is not in vain.

It's a refreshing change to see chat rooms across the Internet on fire with the news of the death of a favorite character or a whole new unexpected twist in the plot. Where only yesterday the topic for conversation was the next rock star, today people talk about literature. Not exactly Shakespeare, but it's a start. For parents, it's a welcome relief to see their children finally taking interest in novels.

However, kids starting off by and sticking to reading only Potter books are missing out on more than they know: the wit and charm of Roald Dahl or the simple fun in the stories of Enid Blyton or even the brilliance of Tolkien. Hopefully, the excitement of reading Harry Potter books is just the beginning. For those of you who have begun reading with renewed interest: Welcome Back!

By Shoaib Alam


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