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CrystalPlanet: SHe
How can we make it easier for them while dismantling the patriarchy?

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Last evening, dad shared links to two tweets with me. Tweets from the UN Women and UNDP Asia-Pacific‘s accounts. Both tweets were about challenging patriarchal stereotypes this womens’ day. One of the tweets wondered if design thinking could be used to disrupt stubborn gender norms.

I don’t see why not!

Gender equality has been extremely elusive or random in society for centuries. And I really wonder how much change if any, witty memes and emotional ads can bring about. Because apart from the actual changemakers like organizations that have not blocked truly deserving women leaders from taking charge at their helm, or women of countries who have literally had to snatch their right to drive, and the small changes by individual in society, a lot of the noise is usually channelized by us only around one day in the year.

So thought I’d share a few views. In the hope we can build on them and make some real, everyday change.

Firstly, where do we start? If we’re to look at it from a design thinking point of view, best place to start is by framing the problem/ opportunity statement!

Ideally, UN’s (tweet) problem/opportunity statement is perfect – about ‘dismantling the patriarchy’. But frankly, we all know how we men have been over the centuries. Look at a developed country like the United States. It has been the world’s poster child when it comes to democracy, freedom of personal choice and expression, and a melting pot of world cultures. And yet, they still have not resolved racism, or completely legalized a woman’s freedom to abort, or rid all industries of corporate glass ceilings for women. And what’s worse, in some states, maternal mortality rates are so high, a woman might have better odds surviving childbirth in the back of a car in a third world country. None of this seems to make equality seem anywhere close, especially in still developing countries like ours.

So, while we can all behave naive and think we’re ‘driving change’ by telling regressive men and women to change; in one way or another, I’d rather frame a problem/ opportunity statement that aims at finding faster solutions than waiting for generations to pass, like we have done so far.

So, how about an opportunity statement that goes: How can everyday for a woman be made more well-balanced (as per her individual standard), so that she may live a much fuller and fulfilling life?

And some solutions or thoughts in that direction:

  • A collective online repository of household or work hackswomen from over the world can learn from or contribute their own innovative ways to balance or reclaim their average day (could be how to use an app differently, or a template to better manage schedules, or a popular service that could help outsource house chores, etc.)
  • Cook for more than one dayIf women need to cook, which often seems to be the case, they could make something for multiple days… (definitely not being pressured to cook once for every meal, as happens in some reserved communities). That way, if the men want more variety in food, they can either cook it, order home, or help with house chores to allow for more time to cook
  • Mobile apps (already mentioned in the UN article) – that make life more efficient for women, on the work or home front

Changes in a corporate culture are usually far easier to implement than at a societal level. So companies could tweak processes so as to allow women (and especially young mothers) a more flexible schedule if needed. The way corporate culture silently taught underlings to follow the boss’ instructions, we could have corporate cultures where an “express” is added to an request by a young mother. That way, she can complete the project as per her schedule, not having to wait on colleagues, thus reducing some of the chaos in her life.

The entertainment industry should really take it upon themselves to help shift world mindsets. With content they create, and more importantly, with the type of content they choose not to create or showcase.

Feel free to add to this, or get working on one or more of these. If you think I can be of any help with ideating on your change idea, drop me an email or something.

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The Superior Sex

The Superior Sex

The timing of this post, right after the so-called ‘Women’s day’ is purely coincidental.

For one, I don’t even know what ‘Women’s day’ is supposed to mean. If we ‘full-of-ourselves-men’ don’t have a ‘men’s day’, then except for commercial businesses to make a killing, I don’t get it.

Now, back to the post. I’m going to risk my neck here by stating that, usually (usually, not always!) men tend to be more savvy with machines, electronics and mobile phones, as compared to women. Agree with me on that? Now, I’m not trying to belittle women in any way. But maybe women are very specific about what they want, and they focus on the essentials. They understand those areas about machines or gadgets, without bothering much about ‘what else’ a machine is capable of doing. We men on the other hand, curious as ever, go to great lengths, often breaking and fixing gadgets, just to get answers to ‘why’ or ‘why not’. I have noticed that with things ranging from cars to computers to mobile phones, and so on.

Long story short, there’s something amazing I’ve observed. I’m not sure if it’s a local phenomenon, though I doubt it is. And that is, that despite men being more curious about gadgets, especially in their younger years, sometimes tend to grapple, often disinterestedly, at a later stage in life, with technology. Their wives on the other hand, tend to become more alert and grasp new technology better as they get older. Older men boldly declare cluelessness on the word go. And several older women put in the extra effort to pace up with technology. It could be to serve a bigger purpose, like wanting to FaceTime or Skype with their children away at college, or stay in touch with friends or relatives on WhatsApp for that matter. I find that to be a really impressive trait that I’ve noticed in a lot of older women. Aren’t women way smarter then?

And I don’t think the best operations professionals could organize and schedule processes better than the average homemaker can. If you knew the number of factors they simultaneously keep track of, while making a seamless and hassle-free environment possible for family members, it’s almost unbelievable.

I say let’s march all the housewives to run our industries, and they’ll revive businesses and economies long before you and I can figure our way around the kitchen.

So I think we blokes should have one day as ‘men’s day’, and let women have the remaining days. They definitely deserve it.

insight

Insight by Helenka

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