You are bound to expect that whenever harsh criticisms are published about certain women, there will be a barrage of protests from women activists. Solidarity is strong within the female community.
It matters not whether the criticism is based on the person’s gender. All it takes is criticism of a woman for a call to arms by female activists.
A few weeks ago, some women reacted to criticisms which were being made about Justice Claudette Singh. They closed ranks and defend a fellow female from what they saw as a gender- based attack, which it was not.
Justice Singh is not above criticism. No person, man or woman, should be above criticism. Not because you are a woman means you should not be criticized.
What should not be condoned are criticisms based on a person’s sex. And sometimes, the criticisms can go beyond the pale and become too personal.
But while women can look forward to being defended when their actions are subject to criticism, it is far different when it comes to men. Men do not enjoy the same degree of solidarity as their opposite numbers.
Men too are constantly been derided in the media. And it is surprising that no one comes to their defence, including when there is an obvious attack based on gender.
It was very disturbing to listen, a few nights ago, to the nightly COVID-19 report. In the opinion of this columnist, men were derided, in that report, for their irresponsibility. They were unfairly singled out for judgment by a senior public health official.
The official accused men of “deliberately” wanting to jeopardize the life of their family members by their reckless behaviour. It needs to be asked how this official arrived at the conclusion that some men were purposely placing their family members at risk.
The official was extremely judgmental by accusing some men of being macho and thinking that wearing of a mask makes them less of a man. The decision to wear or not to wear a mask is not always about being macho.
There are many reasons why some men do not wear masks. For one, they may not have access to a mask; it may be uncomfortable or they may not feel the need to don one.
Women are also just as culpable as men when it comes to not wearing masks. There are just as many women who can be seen not wearing masks as men.
Reference was made to the fact that the ratio of infected males to females was 71:54. This ratio reflects a higher rate of infection for men when compared to women but, unfortunately, it does not amount, statistically, to a correlation between males and COVID-19 infection.
The Ministry of Public Health will be making a big mistake if it assumes that it is male irresponsibility alone which is driving the local epidemic. Citizens, male and female, are not the only ones at fault for the rising number of cases. Mistakes have also been made at the official level, including having to keep police ranks in barracks during this time. Mistakes have been made in not having stringent enforcement of the lockdown. Mistakes have been made in relation to how persons in institutional isolation are being treated. Singling out men for special condemnation can therefore be viewed as deflecting from official missteps.
The second issue is unrelated to the above. But it concerns the health sector.
It has been noticed that quite a few young doctors are occupying senior administrative positions within the health sector. It is always good to see young people being given opportunities. But one has to ensure also that the selections would have been done through a competitive process. Also, those who were appointed to senior administrative positions must have the relevant experience and higher qualifications.
When it comes to health, you want to ensure that you have the best persons in the right positions. You want to ensure that those persons have the experience to do the job and also have the know-how. There was time long ago when all new public appointments were announced and when the appointees’ qualifications and experience were made public. That was a long time ago.
It is not always necessary for a doctor to fill a health administration position since non-medical skills are also needed that doctors may not always possess.
Therefore, while it is encouraging to see young people assuming greater responsibility in the health sector, there is a need to ensure that those who occupy these positions are sufficiently qualified and experienced. It would be useful to know how many of these young administrators had post graduate qualifications before they assumed their appointments. This is not a criticism, just a caution to ensure that our health sector is in the right hands.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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