In the workplace, saying yes is often seen as the golden rule for getting more opportunities, gaining exposure and climbing the corporate ladder. This is especially true for Black Women, who are often afraid to miss out on opportunities that are already limited for them compared to their white counterparts. Because of this many of us end up being completely ‘no’ averse, developing constant FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), afraid of having our “can do attitude” badge removed from us, or other potential consequences.
Talking about consent is weird. I can say that confidently; I’ve been doing it for more or less the past eight years, working with a handful of organisations who deliver conversations about consent in universities, schools and workplaces. And talking about consent with teenagers? Awkward and weird…
In most medical schools in Nigeria, there is a common saying, that girls make the better students and boys the better doctors. As sexist as this statement seems, it is the reality for most.The cultural landscape of the country often limits women from reaching the peak of their careers. The average Nigerian woman, albeit educated, is expected to prepare for family and place the needs of the family ahead of hers. This extra pressure to be the main carer in the family, to cater to her husband and children impacts her opportunity to pursue her career and hone her skills. Although, some women manage to balance this cultural pressure with their educational and career goals it is an obstacle for many.
Can you picture a life constantly thinking about what to wear out in public? Not because you’re obsessed with looking trendy but because your outfit might invite unsolicited catcalling or being followed by strangers? Or a life where you cannot take a jog outside during the day with your phone listening to music – god forbid you’re wearing tights and a crop top. Or how about going to a seemingly safe place like a post office? You can’t possibly get killed in a post office, right? Our president called the Gender Based Violence crisis in South Africa a second pandemic. He’s not wrong. If only our crisis was as simple as taking a vaccine and being free of this constant paralyzing fear. Let me paint you a picture of the last few years in SA.
When it comes to workplace diversity and inclusion, we need to cut the ‘Well I have a daughter and I want her see herself on our Board someday’ or the ‘I want to raise my son to see women at the same table that he is’ clichés. Typically these foreshadow an emotional segment with ‘insert platitudes about general compassion’ and some cherry picked anecdotes for a feel-good, pat on the back. This often comes from a good place, and in some cases the first time people have truly considered diversity is when it was going to hit their loved ones. But what is there, above a moral duty for equality, to actually makes a candidate feel like their diversity actually benefits the bottom line… because it does.
As an adolescent Nigerian in 90s England, I never saw a problem with ‘throwaway’ comments such as “….that girl is definitely into your BMW…..” or “….I bet you’re a beast on the football pitch….”. As an adult I can now see these backhanded compliments for what they are, exoticisation covered in ‘white gaze’. It may be 2021 but racial fetishisation is still a problem…