February 11, 2021

Catching the Window of Opportunity

Dr. Rana Dajani, a renowned Jordanian scholar, and two-time Fulbright grantee share an insightful article around the role of women within the scientific field.

When as a mother I want to introduce new habits I take advantage of a change such as moving house, or school starting. For us as a world, now is the time to change mindsets and frameworks of thinking which people told us in the past was impossible because of the deeply established systems. Well these excuses don’t hold anymore. All systems have been thrown off.

I believe in the power of individuals if they are ready to make change happen. That is why I always ask myself what can I do? Peeking ahead to see what is coming after the bend so to speak. To take control to some extent of what is coming.

Many frame shifts that have been proposed in the past have a chance in the near future. I will share a few of the ones I know about. I am sure there are many more that you can think of.

One paradigm shift that was discussed most recently at the Global women forum in Dubai in March was a solution to the problem of lower number of women in the workplace such as science, business and law among others. My theory is that women are never asked what they really want and never trusted to have an opinion to start with. Society assumes women want to be what men want to be. I argued in my recent book: Five Scarves and TEDxPSUT talk that each human being is different and unique. No one’s DNA is similar to another even identical twins are slightly different because of different environment exposure that impact epigenetics. Therefore why would we assume that we all want the same thing. Therefore as a society we should give the chance for every person to pursue their passion and what success means to them. This will result in a kaleidoscope: a spectrum of people regardless of gender wanting different things from CEOs and senior management positions to teachers and just being a parent or social worker. It kind of reminded me of the ceiling of the Sagrada Familia in Spain. We can actually even change our career paths within our lifetime. How do we actually do this practically? Everyone said this is impossible because of the systems in place that would never allow this paradigm shift. Well now is the time. All assumptions are up for grabs and you can do whatever you want. This is the time to set up new norms and definitions of success that respects diversity and allows a place for everyone with no stereotypes or inhibitions to stop us from pursuing our passion and imagining our version of success.

Photo Credit: UNHCR/ Evelyn Hockstein

Another framework that was always denied is placing value on children caring and upbringing. Bringing up a healthy next generation. Healthy in the sense that research has shown that the first five years are the most important in the lives of a human being. The biological parent is the most invested and the best person to do the job whether mother or father. But no value is put on this role and anyone is considered fit to substitute a nursery when we know that the more care in these years the healthier the child. Research from Martha Welch, associate professor at Columbia University, indicates that control of behavior and emotions are based on mother-child interaction. Charles Nelson a professor at Harvard University has also shown that human interaction is essential for the healthy development of a healthy brain and social skills. He studies the Romanian orphans who were given everything but were deprived of the human interaction they would other wise would have had with their parent. The result was stunted development of their brains and social skills and if not caught early their mental capacity. Parents involvement is essential and instrumental to the healthy development of the child that is how we evolved as a species. Substituting others should be the exception not the norm, and Kelly Lambert, professor at the University of Richmond and others have shown that rats nurtured by their mothers in a rich environment resulted in less stress with higher learning capacity. She talked about her findings in her TEDxbahamas talk and her book “Well Grounded”.

Everyone I talked to at the recent International conference on population development (ICPD) that was held in November in Nairobi, Kenya 25 years after the first ICPD conference was held in China, acknowledges that this is the most important function as a species and for civilization from the UN experts to mothers and fathers. But we don’t put a value on it. We don’t count is as part of the GDP. Women do the majority of this work in addition to their other jobs. Now is the time to restructure how value is calculated and to put value on children upbringing in a monetary way. In the same context we can talk about caring of the elderly a parent. Great time to step in with new ways.

When we are stuck in the world any change seems impossible but a small virus can make the impossible possible.

We are at a window in human civilization to introduce change. I want to call it the fifth revolution in system changes based on human motivation. What other solutions that were already around but impossible to implement not because of lack of money but because of bureaucracy and old systems that seemed impossible to remove. Now is the chance.

UNHCR/ Evelyn Hockstein

Many speak of fear of political control because of the shifting of systems and norms. For any change there are always two ways to go. We are at the crossroads and we have the ability to control which way we go. Collectively I believe that today we are at a cusp of a revolution in systems and frameworks we will not ever have such an opportunity in the future.

The masses follow the leader. Which way the masses will go? Which way will the see saw tip depends on us to provide a clear path that takes into account every individual. Trusting ourselves to know better what is good for us and be the helping hand for each other to rise. This is a dramatic paradigm shift that we are in dire need of and now the time is right to jump and catch the boat in this window of time. Focusing on what makes us human: motivation, agency and ownership for what is good for humanity. I am an optimist I see an ocean in a drop of water and believe in the good of people and that everyone counts and together we can create a better future.

We evolved as social animals and because of technology and money driven economy we were loosing the human touch. Going back to our roots is how we evolved and survived to start with.

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