Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Book Extracts


Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women.

The notion that women should be subservient to men has long ago disappeared in Western society. Yet, even in the West, women occupy very few top political and corporate posts. Put another way, women are unable to shape the society they live in.

The objective of this book is to put an end to this inequality by suggesting to Western women a new approach that will allow them to share, on a fifty-fifty basis, the political and economic power.

What I am proposing in this book is exquisitely simple, but infinitely difficult to carry out in practice. Historically women have never been in power. Suggesting that they share in the power is in effect going against the tide of 5,000 years of history! Changing the attitudes of both men and women will prove extraordinarily difficult. Yet I believe that the time is right. As you become acquainted with what I am proposing in this book, you will quickly realize that failure is impossible – if men and women of good will work together until the goal is attained.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

In a world mesmerized by technical progress, someone had to be “unreasonable” and say that social progress is more important than technical progress. And social progress start with a world where both genders are equal. Without that equality, real social progress is impossible.

If you agree with my views, then please help out. Your help may range from simply being encouraging, to being engaged full-time in the work necessary to bring about equality.

Consider the case made in this book as a seed which has been planted in the ground. If nurtured, it has the potential to grow into a magnificent tree. If neglected, it will die.

The choice is ours!

Chapter 2: Future World

Crime and punishment

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” This misunderstood (because it is taken out of context) law from the Bible simply means: let the punishment fit the crime. (See the exact wording for this law in the New English Bible, Old Testament, Exodus 21. 23-25.)

Photo: Justice

Our society today has drifted away from this biblical law. Punishment can be too harsh in relation to the crime. For instance, California has a law which follows the principle: Three strikes and you’re out. The third time you commit a crime, no matter what type, you get a sentence of 25 years. By so doing, this state has lost sight of the fact that society should concern itself primarily in reforming its outcasts rather than punishing them. Perhaps I am naive, but I believe that ultimately most people respond to kindness and care. On the other hand I could be dead wrong. But how can I ever know? In a society governed by the uncaring gender, I have no possibility to test my theory.

Moral issues

Throughout its history, every society has been faced with moral issues. Issues such as abortion, mercy killing, and cruelty to animals, to mention just a few, have confronted humans for a millennium. Addressing these issues in modern times has become more difficult for two reasons.

First of all, because humans have so greatly evolved during the last few decades, certain notions that were accepted in the past are – at least in the Western world – no longer tolerated. For instance, the view that an individual should not be helped out if he is unable to find work has to, a large extent, disappeared. While we grumble a lot about welfare, we do help, financially and in other ways, people in need.

Second, and the one I wish to explore in more detail, is the impact of our advances in medicine. While humankind has greatly benefited from these advances, they have also raised many difficult questions which we refuse to face with courage and determination. We extend a human life simply because it is technically feasible, or because the doctors are concerned about the legal consequences. We sometimes ignore the wishes of the patient, or his family (if the patient is unable to make the decision.)

The problem here is with our legislators, not with doctors and patients. Politically, issues such as euthanasia are very sensitive; our male legislators prefer to ignore them. They are political dynamite, and can quickly sink one’s political career. However, this is not the only problem. To be fair to these men, they are not equipped to deal with these problems alone. They need to work with women to resolve these difficult issues. We need women in large numbers in our parliaments. We need their logic, their intuition, their ability to cooperate with each other and with men, and above all their care. We need both genders working together at the highest level of government. Technology is not standing still, therefore, we need to act quickly. To reinforce my point, consider the following situation.

Scientists have recently mapped the human genome. The next step is to determine the protein produced by each gene, what its role is, and how these proteins interact with each other. In time, science will be able to cure many of the diseases which are still plaguing us. My concern is that doctors may one day be able to extend human life far beyond its usefulness, far beyond the point where life is still worth living.

If we cannot resolve the relatively simple issues facing us today, how will we be able to deal in the future with the advances (and problems) in genetics and other areas of medicine?

Historically, many criteria will be used by future generations to judge our society. Will it be said by our descendants that technologically we made great strides but when faced with difficult moral issues, we failed miserably? I don’t think so. Not if women enter the picture. Together with men, they can successfully tackle the difficult moral issues that are plaguing us.

Chapter 5: Barriers To Overcome

What are the barriers that women need to overcome before they can elect other women to top political posts?


Culture is the single most powerful force standing between women and equality.

To illustrate the might of cultural forces, I will go back to an event that took place many years ago. It has both religious and cultural aspects. It powerfully shows the constraints under which we humans labor. By extension, it explains why it is so difficult for women to do what it takes to achieve full equality.

I was at the time in junior high-school in Egypt. One Monday, one of the students – I will call him Gabriel – came in with a big gash above his eye. Urged to explain what had happened to him, Gabriel told us that his father – I will call him Simon – caused the accident.

On Saturday morning, Simon woke up and went to the kitchen to get something to eat. There, he found the stove lit. As an orthodox Jew, he became livid. A Jew cannot light any fire on the Shabbat. Gabriel was already up. Therefore, Simon concluded that he had committed this unpardonable sin. He went to his son, and without a word, grabbed him and threw him violently against the balcony door. The glass broke and cut Gabriel over the eye. The wound was bleeding profusely and so an ambulance was called.

As it turned out, it was the maid (a Muslim) who had lit the stove. She had gone down for a few minutes to buy fresh vegetables. When concluding his story, Gabriel told us that, despite his ordeal, his father was in the right! Most of the other students agreed with Gabriel. After all, he thought that his son had broken one of the Shabbat’s laws. How else was he to react? The next questions came from me: “How did your father react when you came back from the hospital? What did he say during the rest of the day?”

For the edification of the readers, I definitely did not expect Simon to apologize. Nor was he going to hug his son. Both gestures would have been unthinkable in this cultural context. Under no circumstances would a father apologize to his child, and displays of affection are totally out of the question after a certain age.

In answer to my questions, Gabriel said that when the first star was visible in the heavens, thus signaling the end of the Shabbat, his father looked at his wound and said a common Egyptian proverb: “The eyes have an angel standing guard over them.” Thus he indicated that he was thankful that the eye itself had not been affected and was perhaps expressing regrets, in a roundabout way, about the incident.

Because my parents were open-minded people, and raised me accordingly, I realized that Simon was in the wrong. Surely, no religion would look kindly upon a father, who after injuring his son, and realizing he had committed an error, would not kiss and hug him, and thank God openly that his injuries were not severe instead of uttering an irrelevant proverb. On the other hand, because I was young, I did not appreciate how powerful culture, custom or religious tradition can be.

How does culture affect the quest for political equality?

The number of customs and traditions which have surrounded women since the beginning of civilization are too numerous to count. What is of relevance in the case I am trying to make, is that the cultural forces in every nation on earth have set a limit on the power women can wield in their respective societies. But why should women accept the limits imposed upon them? Because of customs and traditions. Cultural forces seem irrelevant in our modern world, but they are still very much a part of the human psyche, and they are still mighty forces to be reckoned with.

No matter how liberated the modern woman thinks she is, she is not immune to the crushing weight of the millennia of myths, misconceptions and absurd traditions to which her gender has been subjected.

Now, think of what I have been saying and try to relate it to what I am asking. I am asking women to use their political power at the voting booth to make themselves as powerful as men. This would take them well beyond the limits imposed on them for millennia. This would be unthinkable!

And yet, there are women who have crossed the cultural line.

More than 130 years (late 1860s) ago, a handful of women, the suffragettes, fought relentlessly and never stopped until their gender was allowed to vote.

Over 30 years (late 1960s) ago, a handful of women started the modern women’s movement. They sought total equality for their gender. They have not yet succeeded in crossing this cultural line, but they have brought important changes in the lives of modern women.

Chapter 6: A Starting Point


Are there enough competent women to occupy high positions in politics? The figures provided in chapter 3 indicate that there is a limited number of women in politics. Therefore, we do not, for instance, have enough experienced women to fill half the seats in Congress. Nor do we have enough women to occupy a large number of cabinet posts. Does that mean that the door to political power is closed to women forever? Certainly not. There are many aspects to this issue.

In every U.S. election there are many members of Congress who are elected for the first time. They are, needless to say, inexperienced politicians. They have a lot to learn and most of them learn quickly. While they are inexperienced in politics, they have acquired experience in other domains. Many of them were lawyers for many years before they entered politics. Some were successful businessmen, and still others may have been municipal politicians. In other words, they are not young men fresh out of university with no experience whatsoever. The same idea applies to women. There are capable women out there. Women (the reference is to a dedicated group of women and men who will work together until equality is achieved. More on that in the epilogue) need to identify them. (The International Who’s Who of Women is a good starting point, however, there are other sources such as female municipal politicians, successful businesswomen, prominent female lawyers and judges, well-known actresses, etc…). And women need to determine which ones are willing to enter politics, and help them financially and otherwise.

I am talking about sharing the power, therefore, there will be enough experienced male politicians left from whom women can learn the intricacies of politics. As well, being a conservative person by nature, I am contemplating a gradual process. I am not suggesting that we should move from about 10% female representation in the present Congress to 50% by the next election! It will hopefully be done in an incremental manner, for example moving from 10% to 20% to 35% and so on.

The experienced politician knows the value of the civil servants. He has used them when he was inexperienced to find his way through the stupendous maze of government. He still uses them to find the answers to the problems he faces. Female leaders will quickly discover that there is no magic in the process of governing. Instead, there is a civil service that is paid to inform and guide the leaders of the country.

Despite all our education, we still seem to think that our leaders possess an extra human dimension. Let me assure you that they are humans not much different from you and me! Let me also assure you that a woman can do just as well. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or a woman who takes the levers of power. At the beginning they know very little. All they bring to the job is intelligence, education, past experience in politics, business, or any other domain, and above all, a larger-than-life ego. It will then be up to them to learn and grow, and like any one of us, to serve their country to the best of their abilities.

Chapter 13: Respect In The Workplace

Where can a woman work to get the respect she deserves? Are there employers out there who realize that it is disrespectful to ask their female employees to attend to domestic duties? When I came to Canada from the Middle-East, I assumed that I would finally come to a place where women were accorded the respect they deserved in the workplace. How wrong I was. Over the years I have witnessed numerous instances where disrespect was shown towards women. Is there a country on this planet where a woman can go and find the respect she deserves?

A difficult position

Photo: Woman Waitress

Over the years, many women have told me that they don’t mind preparing and serving coffee for the manager and his visitors. Nor do they mind running errands for him. Women who take this view do not realize that they are putting other women in a difficult position.

In the course of my audits, I have observed that management in many workplaces expects women to render domestic services, and many women oblige! Thus women’s rights and self-respect are undermined. Our actions are interrelated with other people. None of us functions in isolation.

Suppose a woman (I’ll call her Nadia), who has coddled her boss, has to leave her job because she is moving to another city. The woman who replaces her does not want to prepare and serve the coffee, pick up the boss daughter from the child care center, or rush across town to buy tickets for an upcoming football game. She feels it undermines her self-respect. But she has been left with a distasteful legacy.

What then?

In her new city, Nadia is able to secure a good position. But it turns out that there is a problem. She is expected to work long hours. Why? Of course because there is a lot of work, but also because the woman before her was single. Her work was her life, and she didn’t mind staying till 7:00 PM every night. But Nadia has two young children; and yet, her new employer does not respect this fact. She is used to having her secretary at her beck and call at all hours of the day.

What then?

Chapter 14: Women In Management

The sexual factor

Simply put, women who use sex to advance in the business world are not only demeaning themselves, but also their actions reflect on all other women. However, this is an involved matter which cannot be reduced to a simple condemnation. Let us therefore explore this topic further by considering the following scenario.

Karen has been working for four years for the “Arrowman” company. Progress seems to be excruciatingly slow. Many other less worthy people, in Karen’s eyes, have surpassed her. This despite her university education, her good work, and the week-ends spent at the office instead of the ski slopes. So why not take a shortcut?

The director, Mark, who presides over Karen’s destiny, and the destinies of some 30 employees, seems unattainable in his “fortress” guarded by his two secretaries, or as Karen calls them his “watchdogs.” But is he? Hadn’t Mark smiled at her the other day? Hadn’t he looked within the limits of decency, and even beyond, at her low-cut décolleté? Hadn’t he met her “by accident” at the cafeteria, sat at her table, and told her that she was a diligent and intelligent worker with great prospects in the company? What if she were willing to pay the ultimate price? That would no doubt be the shortcut she was looking for. So what if Mark is older than her dad, that he is short, flabby and bald? Didn’t her grandmother once tell her that “they all look the same in the dark; it’s what they can do for you that counts?”

But life is never as simple as the above situation. Human emotions are complex, and the emotions associated with sex can be very explosive. Therefore, sex should never be used as a means to an end. Let me therefore make some changes to the above scenario.

Mark is quite attractive even though he is in his late forties. Karen falls in love with him, or at least, thinks so at the time. He is married with four children. However, Karen talks him into leaving his wife. She is now in a position to reap the bitter fruits of her misdeed. For a long time she has an unhappy man on her hands, for you don’t walk out on a 20-year- marriage without a lot of pain. Mark is also caught in the difficult financial circumstances brought on by his divorce.

Eventually, things settle down, but a happy ending is rare in these stories. In time, Karen makes an honest appraisal of her marriage. She figures that by the time their first child goes to university, Mark will already be in his late sixties. He will be a very old grandfather, if indeed he can live that long. Above all, Karen begins to wonder why she sold her youth; a gift given to a person only once in her lifetime.

Karen eventually leaves Mark, remarries, and secures an executive position in another company. She now makes three times as much as she was making when she started in the workforce. She has 10 people reporting to her and she reports directly to the National Director of Sales. Alas, she is also discovering that success in her career does not automatically bring happiness. Life, she is finding out, is made out of many components. A few things will always go wrong. For instance, her husband had an affair, or as he called it, a “fling,” with a young colleague at work, and despite the fact that she has forgiven him, things have not been the same between them. Their two children are feeling the tension, and their behavior has been affected. Finally, it’s a constant struggle to make ends meet; the strange thing is that she had more disposable income before her salary tripled!

What can we learn from the above story?

If you’re considering using sex to further your career, remember when you were a little girl and badly wanted a specific doll. Once you got your doll, things would be so wonderful. At Christmas, Santa did indeed bring the doll of your dreams. And he made you so incredibly happy. But Santa brought a gift far more valuable than a doll. The doll did not take away the hurts of life. When a boy pushed you on the playground and you cut your lip and bled, did you think about your doll at this time? Of course not. As a child you could not make the connection and realize that a mere doll cannot bring true happiness. The lesson of the doll is really like a dormant seed that stays in you and germinates at the right time to stop you from taking a decision you will later regret. Then again, perhaps (as it happened to Karen) it germinates when it’s too late to be of any use.

Fight like hell to reach your goal, but never sell your dignity in the process. Such a price will always prove too high.

Finally, perhaps this book can usher in a new dawn for women and bring on the day when they don’t have to sell themselves in order to reach their legitimate aspirations. But for that to happen, we will all need to work together.

Chapter 20: Women as Consumers

Photo: Woman Shopping

The problems of women in the workforce are numerous and visible. The problems of women as consumers are numerous and largely invisible. Women are the major consumers in the economy; yet, all major business decisions are made by men. Women are unaware that they, as consumers, are in a disadvantageous position and that they are making the best of a difficult situation.

Photo: Shopping Centre

If the corporate world gave an equal voice to women, what would our world be like? What would be on supermarket shelves? What clothing would be on the racks? What would our cars look like? What kind of radios, televisions, computers, and stereos would we have? How would we travel by road, air, and sea? What music would we be listening to? What books would we read? What movies would we watch? What programs would radio and television offer us? The questions are endless and we simply don’t have an answer to any of them.

(The above paragraph constitutes, in my opinion, the most powerful statement made in this book.)

Chapter 21: A Starting Point

A proliferation of players

Photo: Women Playing Soccer

In politics, the first step was easier: approach the political parties and try to talk them into sharing the political power with women. In the U.S. there are two main parties, thus, even though the task is formidable, the players are limited. With corporations you have many players, many teams, many referees, many fields, and everybody is playing the same game at the same time! The object of the game: make as much money as you can for the shareholders. With that type of objective, the players will not take kindly to any interruption to the game. More so if you are asking half of the players to leave the game and cede their places to new untested players. They will talk of the nervousness of their investors and they will be right. For there is no one more nervous on the face of the earth than an individual who has invested his hard-earned money in a business venture. They will throw at you the incredible complexity of the business world and again they will be right.


The E.P. team

I visualize, in my mind, an organization made up of men and women whose only concern is to achieve, in time, an equal partnership (E.P.). I think of this organization as the E.P. team, and thereafter will refer to it as simply “the team.”

Photo: Justice

The team will require a core of individuals who can devote themselves full-time (paid or unpaid) to E.P. They will work towards this goal until E.P. is achieved in their country. There will, of necessity, be changes in the membership of the team as the years go by. No matter. As long as the team works inexorably towards its goal, E.P. will be achieved.

There will also be a need for volunteers; an army of volunteers, really. I am sure that there will be women and men who will be willing to devote part of their free time to this task. Their numbers will be small at the beginning. However, in time, the loftiness of the undertaking will attract many willing hands.

What about leadership?

When you write such a book, you’re bound to dream of a Moses, lurking in the modern world, who will deliver his people from bondage and take them to the promised land! It’s a distinct possibility, and my dream can be realized. And it will help in this case to have a rich Moses! Is there a brilliant, natural-born leader, preferably wealthy, person out there with incredible organizational capabilities, charisma, an iron will, and who never quits? A capable leader can turn the dream contemplated in this book into reality. But do not despair. Even if a Moses is not found in our midst, there are many capable leaders out there. Ultimately, it is the resolve and dedication of all the members of the team that will bring success. For a leader is only as good as the men and women he is leading.

A Sad Reminder

If I needed to be reminded why I am writing this book, all I have to do is go back, in my mind, to a picture I have seen on my television screen a while ago.

The occasion was the meeting of the leaders of the seven major industrial countries (referred to as the G-7, the seven countries are: The U.S., Canada, Germany, The U.K., Japan, Italy, and France. Later on, Russia joined, and the meeting is now known as the G-8.) The obligatory pictures of this gathering included, of course, all the leaders smiling at each other, at the camera, and at the world. As well, it included a picture of their wives, cheerfully conveying the message that all is well. And it is on the latter that I want to comment.

You know the expression that journalists sometimes use: “What is wrong with this picture?” Oh, apparently there was nothing wrong with this picture for, as far as I know, nobody gave it a second thought. Nobody except me and perhaps a few forward-looking women and men hoping to see the day when such pictures will be consigned to museums.

Photo: Woman

The G-8 meeting is an annual event. Year after year, we see the same depressing picture: eight men gathered together to discuss the problems plaguing their nations and the rest of the world. You may say that there is nothing depressing about that. There are problems, and our leaders are doing their best to resolve them. But what is depressing for me, is that there has never been a woman in their midst (with the exception of Ms. Margaret Thatcher, and in 1993, Ms. Kim Campbell) and nobody seems concerned.

But perhaps there is no need to get depressed. We are young; our history started only 5,000 years ago. We still have the time to write a brighter chapter. The question is: will the women in the West inscribe the first word in the forthcoming chapter?