Managing Diversity Through Inclusion
Bangladesh has silently taken a step towards a Social Revolution! The Sheikh Hasina Government in Dhaka has announced that private companies would enjoy Special Tax Exemption for hiring Transgenders in the workforce. Unveiling the National Budget for the 2021-22 Financial Year in the second week of June 2021, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said: “I propose to enact Special Tax Incentives with a view to providing employment and ensuring rise in living standards and social and economic integration of the members of the Third Gender.” The move is a necessary one, as the Third Gender people are victims of Gender Inequality in a society that is divided into male and female. The Transgenders are also deprived of employment opportunities.
There is a Social Prejudice behind problems faced by the Transgenders. A backward culture is responsible for their unemployment. It is also a fact that there is a shortage of qualified candidates among the Transgenders, because of long social deprivation. However, there is no logic in isolating them. Qualifications are also largely Social Construction… the practice of not accepting anyone is an obstacle in the way of becoming Qualified. Therefore, the decision made by the Government of Bangladesh is an attempt to ensure Social Justice for the Transgenders. It is commendable that the State is trying to fulfill its responsibility to ensure Social Justice for people of all walks of life.
It is, indeed, difficult to create equal opportunity for the Third Gender community. The State may ask private companies to reserve some seats for the Transgenders or provide them with financial incentives… the issue is not just to promote or benefit a particular community. It is important for the State to recognise the Third Genders as legitimate citizens! In other words, if the State backs the Third Gender, then it should not only be considered as a step towards Social Progress, but also as a Political Statement issued on behalf of those people.
One can hope that the Society shall gradually accept members of the Third Gender community, if an initiative by the Government opens up employment opportunities for them. Today, no man gets surprised when he finds a lady sitting next to him at the workstation. The Society has been able to bring this change in a couple of decades. This sort of change is also possible, as far as the Third Genders are concerned. It would have been better if the Society accepted Transgenders; however, it is also the responsibility of the State to guide the Society… and, the Government of Bangladesh has done just that.
In this context, it is necessary to recall the recent judgment of neighbouring India’s Madras High Court on Homosexuality. The High Court has ruled that attempting to heal or cure a homosexual person with the help of a doctor is a criminal offence. According to the Court, these people are very much normal like everyone else. The Indian Judiciary has advised the State to bring Homosexual and Transgender people into the mainstream, by creating awareness and enacting laws. It means that it is the duty of the State to sensitise the Society about Homosexuality and also about traits of the Transgender community.
As the Society feels uncomfortable about any other, it becomes important to initiate the process of accepting it. The Society would have to acknowledge people of different Sexual Orientation as normal. Only then, Homosexuals and Transgenders can enter the mainstream. This is a recognition, as well as confession. Recognition of deprived people means acknowledging the injustice of deprivation… to some, it is consent, and to others, it is confession.
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