This morning I had a business meeting with potential partners.  In the midst of the discussion the issue of GENDER came up.  Is GENDER = WOMEN or does it mean more.

This issue of GENDER is extremely emotional and conjures emotions from both sides, GENDER is basically about social definition of the roles of men and women in the society.  What the society expects. Stereotyping! It is more of culture than the sexuality or individuality of a male or female person.

It was refreshing to meet a man who advocates for equality and to recognize that Gender equality is about society removing labels and restriction and allowing both male and female to live to their potential despite their sex.

Gender is not all about oppression but has some positive aspects to it both for men and women.  For example the practice to protect pregnant women is positive.  To encourage boys to sports and physical activity is important as they are naturally strong.

The negative and oppressive cultural practices that discriminate the male and female are what needs to be done away with.  Example early marriage, forced marriage, discrimination at work, domestic abuse and women cannot be leaders in business or politics to name a few against women.  For men forcing them to certain profession, emotional abuse, high expectations, frowning on male primary care givers, mannies, frowning on men being emotional, discrimination on some jobs, men ae required to pay bills to name a few.

What we acknowledged is that negative aspects of GENDER may be felt by both men and women.  The focus has been on women because abuse and violation were more rampant and more pronounced.  This does not in any way diminish the negative impact on the men.

Striving towards Gender Equality requires that society allows both men and women to find a space to express their individuality.  No longer are men and women to be confined to a box of what “society” think they should believe.  No more stereotyping.

Society needs to be more accommodative and allow men and women to participate and be judged according to their talent and performance and not their sex.  It is time that suppressing and pressuring one sex is not “a societal norm” or “culture”.  People need to be allowed to act according to their talents and strength and judged accordingly.

This will take some time.  Am happy that the change is already being felt by

deliberate inclusion of all sex in all areas even those previously label “male dominated” and “women dominated” Women are now sports leaders, Chief Executive Officers, Scientists, engineers and oil & gas moguls.  Men are now nurses, designers, chefs, activists, personal assistants, hairdressers to name a few.  It takes a deliberate conscious decision not to allow these labels to cloud your judgment and decision making.

More awareness to remove our default reaction to peg a label based on GENDER. We need to define people by WHO they are not their SEX.  This allows the best to compete equally and thereby improving standards and increase innovation.  Those who feel ill equipped can build their capacity to compete.  I look forward to when we shall be judged on competence, performance, value and not whether we are male or female.

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