“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably hard.”— Melinda Gates
8th March, 2021
What does Women’s Day symbolize?
Having marched for the cause initially in 1911, International Women’s Day is now celebrated annually on the 8th of March. Women’s Day symbolizes many things. It is a celebration of the social, economical, cultural, and political advancements of women. However, it also signifies the need to raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby and accelerate discussions of gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities.
What can we celebrate about on this day?
On a day as such, we need to give special credit to the women who are breaking glass ceilings and making changes within their societies, for it is only through the acknowledgment of achievement and talent that other girls and women will be inspired to reach for the stars.
- Asha De Vos: She is a Sri Lankan Marine Biologist, Ocean Educator and a Pioneer in Blue Whale Research. She is a Senior TED Fellow and was selected for the BBC 100 Women Award in 2018.
- Nabeela Iqbal: Nabeela is a grassroots activist from Sri Lanka with a background in peacebuilding, youth civic engagement and girls’ non-formal education. She currently runs the female-led youth organization Sisterhood Initiative. She was recently recognized by Amnesty International as a young activist who showed resilience amidst uncertainty.
- Selyna Peiris: Selyna Peiris is Director at Selyn, the only fair trade guaranteed handloom company in Sri Lanka. She is an Attorney-at-law and has extensive experience in the development sector in areas such as gender, livelihoods, and reconciliation.
- Dr. Mona Obaid: Dr. Mona Obaid was recently appointed as Lilly Pharmaceuticals’ new medical director, marking a landmark achievement for women in the Kingdom as the first woman to hold such a senior leadership role in the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.
- Dr. Nouf Abdul Aziz Al-Anazi: Dr. Nouf Abdul Aziz Al-Anazi was recently appointed as director of the King Fahd Cardiac Center (KFCC) at the King Saud University Medical City (KSUMC) and thereby stood out as a top national cardiologist and the first Saudi female doctor to lead a heart disease center.
Although this is just a handful of women out there, challenging boundaries, breaking glass ceilings, and making a difference out there, we at Cloud Solutions International believe that every single one of you has the potential to be someone amazing. Women are born to be leaders- be it as a homemaker or a CEO, we have the spark that it takes to be a leader, and too often these potentials are hidden behind societal norms and pressures.
Culture at Cloud Solutions International
As I set stride with this article, I believed it sufficient to simply include statistics and what we as a nation can focus on. However, there is always more. Cloud Solutions International is a company that is based in the IT and HealthCare industry- two industries where there is a high level of male dominance. So what does it take to be a woman at CSI? What are their biggest struggles? How do they maintain a good work-home balance?
In order to get a clearer picture, we interviewed a couple of Women holding leading positions at Cloud Solutions International. When asked what they think of the CSI Work Environment, Piyumika Dissanayake a UI Engineer mentioned that although she was the only woman in a team with nine men, she’s never felt gender inequality to be an issue, as her opinions were always respected and she got equal importance at the table. Apeksha Sayakkara, a Senior Software Engineer who has been with CSI for two years shared the same views when she said that the company had many family-friendly policies that allowed her to maintain a good work-home balance.
This brought us to another very important question: How did these women ensure a work-home balance? Dishanika Denipitiyage, a Machine Learning Engineer stated that employing three main strategies allowed her to maintain the balance. These strategies included avoiding distractions during working hours, avoiding doing office work during non-working hours, and aligning her passion with her work. Nivanthi Dedigama, a QA Lead had more to add when she said she usually plans for the next day’s items ahead of time, so she has enough time to do all that is expected of her- at home and at work.
Although these women seem to have it all well handled, they all mentioned that there were so many challenges women, in general, have to face in society, such as expectations to fulfill household necessities and taking care of children alone. However, many claim that with support from family and the workplace, this problem can be reduced or eliminated entirely.
What do we need to raise our voices against?
According to a study conducted by many entities in Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka, gender inequality is a topic that needs to be discussed. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, Sri Lankan women have reported to mainly face abuse by their husbands and fathers, whilst also raising concerns with regards to abuse faced by their in-laws. A study conducted in 2013, by the United Nations, concluded that at least 30% faced Emotional Abuse, 21% Physical Abuse, 18% Sexual Violence, and 29% faced both physical and Sexual Abuse. These are very alarming numbers, and hence, on a day as today, we need to raise our voices and begin addressing these issues that women face on a daily basis, so we could make the world a much safer space for women.
If you do not identify as a woman, how can you help?
You’re a guy, reading this article. So what? What is it that you can do to make a change? We as women know that it isn’t all men that invade our personal spaces and choose to harm us, but we also know of too many men that kept quiet when they saw something happen. On this Women’s Day, I along with many other women hope that you speak up when you notice injustice- be it at work, in public transport, or even at home. Speak Up! There are many ways that you can stop injustices if you want to. Speak up when you notice your female colleague is being paid less than you. Try and intervene when you notice a man making unwanted advances at a woman in public transport. Speak Up when your parents hold your sister to an unfair standard than they do you. Just Speak Up!
World Health Organization. Country Office for Sri Lanka. (2018). Country profile on gender-based violence in Sri Lanka. World Health Organization. Country Office for Sri-Lanka. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/273193. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO
Mobaraki, A.E.H. & Soderfeldt, B. (2010). Gender inequity in Saudi Arabia and its role in public health. EMHJ – Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 16 (1), 113-118, 2010 https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/117827