The global UN Women theme for International Women's Day (IWD) 2021 is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
To be honest I found it hard, this year, to write about this theme. Because I want equality, but by merit, and women’s justice issues lead by both men and women, not numbers or ratios of men to women. Perhaps, I have the luxury to feel this way because I am surrounded by amazing men who treat me as their equal. So, I am not going to throw stats about the lack of representation because in my world men can represent and speak up for women too.
BUT, we must recognise that this can only happen when men are raised well and are not misogynists. Therefore, we need to recognise the importance of raising self-assured boys and fierce girls who can become a voice to forge a gender equal world that accepts and encourages girls into leadership roles.
Firstly, to do this we need to raise girls (and men) in a way that proves to them that they are equals. We must teach girls to believe 'We can do anything that men can do.' But, we also need to teach our boys to say, 'We can do anything that women can do."
Below are a few ways we can be leaders to facilitate this:
- Celebrate and support women who are in male dominated fields, to create role models for the girls and lift the stereotyping.
- Celebrate and support men who take on their fair share to care for children and at home duties.
- Attend games and watch sports of both men and women. If there is to be fair pay in women’s sports the general public need to support it, and that is you and I.
- Speaking up and encourage women to pursue their goals without bias or barriers. Such as raising the awareness of the importance of building a workplace that enables women to thrive. This is not about special treatment for women, but about the implementation of integrated gender diversity strategies. For example, we need educate our leaders of the future both men and women to speak up and say that a “‘masculine’ or ‘blokey’ culture that is non-inclusive and has a higher tolerance of behaviours that could be viewed as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination” is NOT OK – EVER (Australian Human Rights Commission, Women in male dominated industries – a tool kit of strategies, 2013).
- Equal pay for an equal day of work. Why is this so hard ????!!!!
- When there is an obvious skew of lack of representation of women to men in a particular field or organisation it needs to be discouraged and seen as a business failure and this should be brought up for attention. And those who raise awareness should be praised as champions for equality.
- Wear Fair Trade. By supporting Fair Trade you are supporting organisations that believe in gender equality and the empowerment of women. For example, at Global Mamas the women are encouraged to become business owners. To see how Fair Trade changes the life of these women go to the Global Mamas website.
One of my female heroes is Malala Yousafzai, an activist who at the age of 15 was shot because she stood up for her right to an education and despite almost losing her life she still fights. She became this amazing leader because she had a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school. He told her she can! Malala’s father highlights the need to tell our children they can be leaders to facilitate change to create a better, more inclusive world.
Malala's courage to speak up has highlighted that one of the biggest challenges facing women into roles of leadership is educational inequality. Unfortunately, globally there is still a belief that women are not worthy of the same educational opportunities afforded to men. Poverty, geography, and other factors contribute to huge disparities in education, but it is traditional patriarchy that justifies this denial of opportunity. Education is power and we need to ensure that both the enlightened men and women of the world stand up and voice to the patriarchal societies, that women have the right to education and that there needs to be policies to facilitate education at a governmental level. UNICEF is one organisation that is doing something about this issue, to find out more go to https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education .
#choosetochallenge #IWD2021 #BeTheChangeYouWantToSee
Image: source https://www.globalmamas.org/MeetTheMamasByTechnique