Business needs to be more about skills and talents than your SEX! I am a beneficiary of the last 30 years campaign for Women Equality. I am from a family of strong independent women starting with my Mother. I am fortunate to have had a progressive father who did not believe in stereotyping women into any roles. He gave us space and opportunity to live to our potential. He actually pushed us to be independent and self sufficient. He gave my mother an opportunity to take charge of the family farm and manage that to a success. He trusted that women are more than just domestic helpers and contribute to the family and the community at large.
My father was a doctor and well respected in the community. He could very easily have have been domineering and dismissive of the role and contribution of women. My father taught me to treat people fairly. I learnt from how he treated my mother, his mother and all my relatives and generally people around him. My father came from poverty and understood that education was key to help us have a fighting chance at living to our potential. Clearly he was right!
Getting into the real world and experiencing discrimination and abuse because I am a WOMAN was shocking to me as at home, women are respected and are free to be the best they can be. I was often shocked, disappointed and angry at how I was judged as a female and not on my skills and talents. At home, I was just part of the family my sex really didn’t matter.
Gender stereotyping and sexism was one of the hurdles that I had to and continue to encounter. The worst thing about stereotyping and sexism is that it robs you of your INDIVIDUALITY and UNIQUENESS. Why should someone create for you a BOX and confine you to it? We all have different talents and skills that we can and should exercise and often we cannot do this while confined to a BOX.
I have learnt that I needed to break out of the BOX and just fly!
Women need to move out of this BOX. When men realise that you can deliver, you define yourself with more than your sex then they are able to judge you on your skills and talents. As women we need to take advantage of the space created so far and fill it up. The more we leave gaps the more we reinforce the notion that women are not able to participate equally.
WHAT SHOULD WOMEN WE DO TO #PRESSFORPROGRESS?
The strategy for Gender Equality needs to change slightly. We still need the campaigns and sensitization especially as pertains to our DIGNITY and DISCRIMINATION. Further, we need to strategically place women to influence policy and attitudes. How can we do this? Women who are empowered need to;
Stop being a victim
Stop feeling entitled, work for it
Get necessary skills and enhance your capacity
Be a positive story and image of women
Be confident and Speak up
Participate and Engage
Women need to change the VICTIM approach and present themselves as a PARTNER and TEAM PLAYER. women need to just get he required skills and work. The structure and measures of success are skewed to favour men but we must work in the system to change it. I believe that this way society will look more at our contribution and output and our sex will not matter any more.
Getting to the table is not easy but thankfully many amazing women are there already. We celebrate you. We need more women at the board rooms making decisions to help our society mindset change. Gender mainstreaming is a useful tool that has helped women access resources. Such policies would not be introduced or implemented if women are not in the boardroom making GENDER EQUITY part of the MAIN AGENDA.
Gender mainstreaming according to the UN is “
“the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any
planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas
and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns
and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation,
monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic
and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality
is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality”
A key player in ensuring GENDER EQUITY is our MEN. Our men are human and recognise the need to preserve DIGNITY and FAIRNESS. It is an inalienable right recognised by all. Many men are conditioned by suppressive cultures and practices to look at women differently and not just like a fellow human. It is not natural to treat one half of the population based on their sex and not their talents and skills. Men need to abandon any practices that make them treat women as anything less than a human being with equal human rights.
Gender Equity also means that women need to treat men as human beings and not or put them in a BOX too. We are not replacing men with women or vice versa we are advocating for men and women to be judged based skills and talents and not sex.
The issue with EQUITY is that just merely providing the same circumstances does not really cut it. Just because boys and girls attend school then they are equal and should compete is not a fair measure. Why? What happens during the holidays or after class? Girls are often engaged in family duties and chores more than boys. Counting hours girls have to study compared to boys shows that getting them to school is a good start but the social change is required to achieve the desired equity.
This scenario reflects in workplace too. The female CEO often will have to be involved in the nurturing of the children, management of the home and other social duties. Men relatively have more time and space to reflect, grow their skills and talents than women. Women have to juggle and balance or sacrifice many things to be able to rise in the workspace. Though we are all in the same workplace social expectations and roles make women have a harder time and need to work harder to compete with men. Until women and men are able to have same time and space to develop themselves then we can say there is equity in the workspace.
The reality is that women are 51 % of the population. Only 27 of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are Women as at 2017 (www.fortune.com). Only 15 female leaders of government (www.pewresearch.org). In Kenya due to the Constitutional requirements we see more women in boards at about 30%(www.businessdaily.com). So we are far from Gender Equity. We have made progress but more needs to be done. Affirmative Action still needs to be used as a tool to bridge this gap faster.
WHAT CAN MEN DO TO #PRESSFORPROGRESS?
- Participate in the social obligations especially parenting
- Respect talents and skills
- Appreciate the value of a different perspective
- Deliberately include women; Affirmative Action
- Acknowledge contribution of women
- Abandon harmful cultures e.g.early marriage,domestic violence
- Support policies that help women balance their roles e.g. flexi hours, capacity building in leadership.
In conclusion, GENDER EQUITY is good for MEN AND WOMEN. We all need to be treated fairly and given an opportunity to participate fully. We have made good progress but still we need to #PressForProgress. Business needs to be more about skills and talents than SEX!
(Views by the writer are personal to her are not necessarily the views of Mpower Limited.)
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