While many people are celebrating Women Equality Day today, I heard many others decrying it. A lot of people believe women are already equal and that their fight now is just to push men out.
You may say: “it’s 2018, why are we still talking about feminism and equality?”
Breaking news: because it’s still an issue.
What equality is that which implies tolerating that occasionally a man will land at an awesome position or a higher wage just because he is a man?
Accepting that ladies will have less superannuation at the end of her working life since she took two or three years off to raise her children?
Of course, opportunities are there for everyone to try out, but be honest to yourself (really, really honest): if there is equality, why women are a whopping 15% less likely than men to get promoted?
Did you ever stop to think about why women are not getting all the opportunities they want? Maybe something about the culture getting on their way?
Today, there’s more emphasis on equality and diversity everywhere than ever before. But, are we really encouraging it through our actions?
Obviously, we aren’t…
All it takes is a look around to see several stories that prove how inequality is still out there!
In Saudi Arabia, for instance, ladies have just barely been given the privilege to drive.:
Madawi al-Rasheed is a Saudi Arabian professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics. She talks a little about it.
“We talk about driving as if it is the most important thing. It is important for the women’s movement… But there are certain legal restrictions that are still in place, that are also a pressing issue. It’s a long struggle and a long road to serious equality.”
Yet, despite everything, they can’t marry, divorce, travel, get a job or have an elective medical procedure without authorization from their male guardians.
In India, an engineering student was bold enough to talk about patriarchy.
“There’s a guy who doesn’t want his girlfriend to even talk to another guy. Another guy would rather spy on her than ask her questions directly. There’s a guy who makes the girl so scared that she lives life afraid that any action of hers might annoy him. The list is endless”
Men often want to know the whereabouts of girlfriends/wives at each and every moment. Claiming their insecurity as their concern for her safety. This sometimes ends up with physical violence as well.
Aren’t men allowed to go free anytime and anywhere?
We talk about equality, but according to Beatrice Alba, a researcher from LA Trobe University, it remains mostly only on papers. When it comes to actual live decisions, people do discriminate on the basis of gender, even if subconsciously.
“An experiment was conducted in which participants watched an entrepreneurial pitch video of images relating to a new venture, narrated by the voice of the entrepreneur.
Participants were randomly assigned to a group in which either a male or female voice narrated the pitch, which was otherwise identical. When a male voice pitched the venture, 68% of participants thought it was worthy of funding, compared to only 32% when pitched by a female voice.“
So you can deny as much as you want, it’s a fact: gender inequality continues in current social orders.
But ok, enough of just saying that the issue is out there. Let’s be practical: what can we do to actually about it?
Here are 5 things you can do to foster gender equality
1. Stop teaching boys that they are ‘protector of women’.
“Teach them about the full autonomy of women—that it is not their job to expect to be cared for by women, that they do not own women’s bodies, and that it is also not their job to protect women because they are women.”
–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author of We Should All Be Feminists
Protecting people is a good thing but we should teach boys to protect anyone who requires protection, regardless of gender.
That way they are less likely to grow up to think of their job as “protector of women”. This inevitably comes with the assumption that they can also think for, and decide for, women, which results in patriarchy.
“I just want to protect her” can then become an excuse for everything.
2. Educate yourself and others about the difference in opportunities.
First and the foremost thing here is Education.
Did you know that girls in poor communities often miss their schools often due to lack of clean water in their village. They spend several hours fetching water for their families because, apparently, that’s “their responsibility”.
Also, a huge number of girls in rural areas are not allowed to move out of their house when they are on their periods. Period awareness should be spread with the fact that it’s not a taboo.
Things like that need to be talked about. It’s a big change, that needs to be taken on baby steps, which is exactly why we need to start now!
You can also volunteer at several rural areas and establish a mentorship with them.
3. Stop raising children in different ways, based on their gender.
If people grow up thinking this or that about gender roles, we have no one else to blame but ourselves, the elders.
We start pushing rules from before they are born. “Blue is for boys, pink is for girls”, “boys toys vs girls toys”, “boys don’t cry”. All these things start shaping the way our children think and behave, and they can spend the rest of their lives struggling with those “truths”.
Kids need to learn that all human beings come with the same rights, despite their gender or sexual orientation. It’s never too late to start trying and no step is too small.
4. Pay attention to your own actions: do you behave in different ways if it’s a man or a woman?
It’s not that it’s on purpose, but we constantly see boys advising or helping girls on things. It may seem ok, even friendly, and that’s why we don’t notice small small things.
For instance, if a girl is struggling with doing something that requires strength, usually boys come to the rescue and offer to help. But do you see them doing the same if it’s a male friend? Not really.
On the other hand, girls are very willing to accept help, while as men have this pride that they should be able to do it themselves.
Guys, a quick reminder: it’s ok to get help, ok?
5. Engage directly
There’s a lot you can do if you want to take a step forward.
A small beginning is engaging with movements like ‘Cause we Care’ (@causewecare). It’s an online campaign committed to helping single mothers and children to improve their life.
They take support from the donors and Volunteers to break the cycle of poverty for single mothers. They help in upliftment for the better world.
You can also volunteer at a local rape crisis centre. Rape falls under Sexual Assault, which is a non-consensual touching and a forceful Sexual Act. There are various Organisations and NGOs that help the victims.
You can always be a part of these NGOs and campaigns. Every action counts ?
Gender equality is about both men and women being able to be themselves and do what they want, respecting each other mutually!
Let us know in the comments if you ever did something on gender equality! We’d love to know it 🙂
We at AIESEC have many projects around the world for SDG number 5 (gender equality), SDG number 4 (Quality Education), SDG number 10 (reduced inequalities).
If you’re interested and feel that you can contribute, check more about the program here.
Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.