PEARL

ON WOMANHOOD

Created by God the Lord more delicately and finely than man, woman was placed into life to serve this life as an ornament, like the flower in the garden. Man should look up to women with reverence.
Mohammed

The traditional gender roles that began changing during the 19th century have altered with dizzying speed in recent years. Not only are more women today in the workplace and away from home than in their parents’ generation, many women are also actively engaged in the world of arts, business, science and politics – and through indications of where things may be heading as the home and workplace register the cultural shifts, women are also at a crossroads in rethinking their authenticity and embodiment of self-respect.

I am walking through the departure area of a busy international airport. I constantly hear reverberant announcements over the loudspeakers: ‘Last call for passengers on flight number AF5684 to Miami!’ I make a turn to head into the VIP lounge where it is as if I enter another world. Quiet calmness prevails and I find a comfortable seat with enough space to stretch my legs and savour the atmosphere. The buffet table has something for every appetite; hot and cold drinks, a variety of fruits and tempting snacks are offered to the business class travellers who wait around there.

Jane and I have arranged to meet here. I arrived early and can now enjoy the rarefied atmosphere whilst I wait. There is a sea of briefcases and laptops with their male owners almost disappearing behind them. The men look as uniformed as their belongings, wearing the same business suits with matching fashionable collars and neckties. The cell phones ring differently though. I notice a few solitary women wearing pantsuits or tightfitting outfits. Everybody appears respectable, stiff and formal. The colourful, wide swinging skirts, scarves and bags of the female tourists

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