How Men Can Contribute to Gender Equality

Gender equality is an important human right, which is vital for both men and women. They should work together in trying to champion the issue of inequality. Old traditions and cultures have played a major role in promoting and advancing it. Many positions in the past were held by men simply because of the above-mentioned ideas. Let’s further explore different ways in which men can contribute to gender equality.

Recognise how cultural and religious norms have played a role

Most religions and customs overpower women even in this 21st century. They have beliefs that seek to suggest that men are always greater than women. Women should be understood and not be deprived of opportunities as they are also important people in society. Once traditions, cultures, and societies are motivated by gender equality, women, mental health, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence will be championed as many men will learn numerous ways to understand and see women as valuable and grant them more opportunities like men

Recognising these stereotypes and challenging them in everyday life is an important step in building more equitable relationships between men and women in their private spaces and in the workplace and ultimately in society.

Actively listen to women’s perspectives

Women are the experts on their own life experiences so men should seek out opportunities to hear women’s stories and take their concerns seriously without interrupting or trying to make them feel less of themselves. Amplify women’s voices, acknowledge their experiences, and take on the role of educating other men in a way that inspires trust and respect.

Contest Prejudice

It is true that men are privileged in many societies even today, however, they are duty-bound to challenge sexism. They should engage more on issues revolving around gender balance in the workplace. Promote gender equality and speak about sexist behaviours. Include women also in talks in communities and grant them opportunities in powerful positions and take a political stand.

Have women in Leadership

Men have more knowledge than women in leadership as they have been deprived of leadership opportunities for a while in the past. The responsibility men can fulfill is to support women in leadership. Advocate for women and represent them in decision-making and their positions. Men tend to not celebrate women’s achievements, however, celebrating them may boost their self-esteem, and confidence and create opportunities for advanced careers. Even in the working environment, it can create a more balanced working environment with harmony also making it a point that men are not biased.

Split Domestic Responsibilities

Both men and women go to work nowadays. In the past women were not allowed to go and look for employment but, now they work. Household chores and domestic responsibilities should be shared, in that way, women can pursue their desired careers and get better opportunities outside their homes. Men will get a great opportunity to bond with the children. The children will learn a lot about sharing responsibilities and will grow up in a very good family unit where both parents live together and share responsibilities.

Teach and Guide Women

Mentoring and teaching women in their professional and personal lives. This involves recognising women in the workplace and supporting them in a professional setting. Create opportunities for growth and development so that women are visible. Mentor women for strategic positions, in that regard women will be placed in positions in the workplace. Nowadays women are found in strategic positions; hence you can still count several of them. Barrier limitation can contribute a lot to gender inequality.

For gender equality to be achieved, it is important to increase awareness that it is a societal issue and should engage both men and women working hand in hand to transform the world into a place where they can thrive both equally.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, an Instagram message, a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

More About Gender Equality

Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. It implies that women, men, boys, and girls of all classes and races participate as equals and have equal value. They enjoy equal access to resources, freedoms, and opportunities to exercise control.

Do we need gender equality?

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and gender-based discrimination violates that right. Gender inequality begins in childhood and is currently restricting the lifelong potential of children worldwide, greatly impacting girls.

Why is it necessary?

Gender equality protects women and girls from abuse. It is necessary for economic growth. Societies that treat men and women equally are safer and healthier. It’s also important as it empowers women and men to make more positive decisions about their own sexual reproductive health. Gender equality has the potential to improve decision-making on topics such as marriage age, birth timing, contraception use, and changing harmful behaviors (such as female genital cutting).

Are we unequal as a society?

It’s important to recognise that gender inequality exists; women are generally excluded or disadvantaged in terms of decision-making and access to economic and social resources. As a result, empowering women is a vital component of fostering gender equality, with a focus on detecting and redressing power imbalances and allowing women more responsibility to manage their own lives.

Does this mean men and women are the same?

Gender equality and women’s empowerment don’t mean that men and women become the same; rather, it means that men’s and women’s access to opportunities and life changes is not based on or limited by their gender.

Women have the right to live with dignity, safety, and security. Women’s and girls’ empowerment is the key to achieving development and decreasing poverty. Women who are healthy, educated, and self-sufficient contribute to the health and wealth of entire families, communities, and nations.

How will you be contributing to gender equality in your community? Comment down below

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, an  Instagram message, a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Unpacking Gender Equality And How To Positively Contribute To Change – Dr Shakira Choonara

We often use the term “gender” but what does it mean?

Often the terms “sex” and “gender” are commonly used interchangeably ( to mean the same thing) but there is a significant and important difference. Sex refers to biological differences between males and females. Gender refers to socially constructed characteristics of men, women, and other genders (e.g. transgender individuals). This means the way society defines the roles different genders have and the different expectations for each gender, for example women and girls must do household chores.

What do we mean by gender equality?

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) states that gender equality is a human right. Let that sink, a human right! Women, men, boys, and girls of all classes and races participate as equals and have equal value. They enjoy equal access to resources, freedoms, and opportunities to exercise control. In my own words, I would describe it that we all have equal life chances, that we all have equal footing, and that we are not discriminated against e.g., told that you cannot be an engineer or police officer because that’s not a job for women and girls.

Where do we see gender inequality play out?

It starts off in our homes, you will be dressed in pink or blue from a really early age, you will be given Christmas or birthday gifts based on your gender (make-up or a truck), and the household chores you will be assigned will be based on gender e.g. cleaning and cooking is assigned to young women, while young men are allowed to stay out late and possibly have fewer domestic chores. In our religious spaces, there are clear roles for “men” and “women”, in some societies we see women as young as ten-year-olds being forced into child marriages, this is predominant in most of Africa. At school, there may be bathrooms based on a specific gender but no dedicated bathrooms for students with disabilities (in a wheelchair) or for transgender children. These beliefs and norms are not necessarily harmful and we should be respectful of people’s beliefs. Although, there is a point where these beliefs can be harmful and discriminatory and this is known as gender inequality.

How can we address gender inequality?

On a global level, there is a political commitment from governments, civil society, and donors to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 5 – achieving gender equality by 2030. There are sub-targets such as ending all forms of discrimination, violence, unpaid care work (e.g. chores in our households), and more female leaders.

Governments also have national-level commitments and policies, in South Africa for example, post massive protests such as Sandton Shutdown and Total Shutdown putting pressure on the government to finalise the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence and Femicide. We need to work together to ensure the plan is implemented, this also shows the value of organising and protesting against gender-based violence.

Finally, it is up to each of us to learn more about gender inequality issues, and to build awareness in our homes, schools, religious places, and online. We can do this through conversations, creating fun informative content, planning peaceful protests, learning more about our school policies on teenage pregnancy, and volunteering at a shelter for women and children who are survivors of gender-based violence. There is so much we can do!

Where can you learn more about gender equality?

If you want to learn more about gender equality issues, my favourite recommended website would be https://www.unwomen.org/ the social media pages are also quite cool and informative, check out UN Women (@unwomen) • Instagram photos and videos.

Fight for equality, fight for gender equality, fight for all genders, and fight for SDG5!

About the Author: Dr Shakira Choonara is an award-winning public health practitioner, 2017 Woman of the Year in Health in South Africa and a Lancet Commissioner on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing.  Dr Choonara is appointed to roles at both UN Women and the World Health Organization. tweet/ insta @ChoonaraShakira

The significance of 16 Days of Activism against GBV – Dr Shakira

The Significance of 16 Days of Activism Against GBV – Dr. Shakira Choonara

Globally, one in three women experience violence from an intimate partner, which is usually sexual or physical. Globally, 81 000 women and girls were killed in 2020 (47 000 died at the hands of an intimate partner or family member), this means that every 11 minutes a woman or girl is killed in their home.

Each year between the 25th of November and the 10th of December 2022 you may notice more adverts on television or even more posts on Instagram and Tik Tok on violence. The increased attention to violence marks the annual international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. These two dates are significant as the 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 10th of December marks Human Rights Day. We have been marking 16 Days of Activism since the year 1991 and it is a strategy used by individuals or organizations worldwide to call for the prevention and elimination of violence. It is worth it to note that there are different forms of GBV e.g. physical, emotional, and financial and in South Africa we also spotlight femicide in our policies – the killing of a female person or perceived female person (someone we assume to be or categorise as being female).

GBV affects all genders

It is primarily women and girls who are at the receiving end of violence, but there are also increased levels of stigma, discrimination, and violence against transgender persons and the LGBTQI community. Working on the ground level, there are so many cases of LGBTQI persons facing corrective rape to cure them of their “sexual preference”; this is a violation of one’s body and violence in its harshest form.

Examples of successful GBV Campaigns

  • The #metoo movement kicked off when survivors, specifically, Hollywood movie stars shared their experiences of GBV. The Hashtag went viral and spurred many women to speak out and expose their experiences.
  • In South Africa, recently, activists galvanized around the Sandton Protest, the pressure on the Government led to a R1 billion allocation to GBV by President Cyril Ramaphosa and pressure to work towards the National Strategic Plan on GBV and Femicide.

What action can you take during the 16 Days of Activism?

  • Volunteer at a women’s or children’s shelter which houses survivors of GBV.
  • See whether your school has a policy on GBV and if you can help support this.
  • Host an awareness session at school, in your community, or even online with your peers. You could also shoot TikToks or Instagram your thoughts on violence to raise awareness, encouraging your peers to join in.
  • Find out what GBV services are in your area, if there aren’t any you can take up a fight to have this in place.
  • Engage with the South African Police Service on the GBV efforts.
  • If you know of any peers or family members experiencing violence, advise and support them to report this and seek medical assistance immediately.

Remember, our advocacy and work in the area is not for 16 days only but it is a fight we need to take up all year round.

Dr. Shakira Choonara is a multi-award public health practitioner, appointed to the World Health Organization and UN Women. She is also the 2017 Woman of the Year in Health, South Africa.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).