How to achieve #GenerationEquality?

Viola Desmond
Revisiting inspiration: Viola Desmond, symbol of resistance to Canadian racial discrimination.
March 6, 2020
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How to achieve #GenerationEquality?

Beijing+25

International Women’s day 2020 was celebrated worldwide with the theme #IAmGenerationEquality.

Marking the twenty-fifth year milestone of Beijing+25 and a five-year review this year, the day was celebrated envisioning an equal world for women in all sectors of world, despite their age or social status. The campaign aims to highlight women’s rights for an equal future” campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life. The Generation Equality addresses the implicit and explicit forms of inequality that women face in different spheres of life, be it politics and offices, work, or at household level and envisions equality in all arenas.

Post 25 years of Beijing conference, the most visionary agenda for the human rights of women and girls, which aimed to address and work upon the systemic barriers leading to oppression of women, not much has changed. Changes have been agonizingly slow in most parts of the world for women. Women’s voices and opinions are barely considered of equal power than of men even today. There is not a single country who has achieved gender equality. Cultural and traditional barriers still exist, putting women at stake of misogyny and violence. Women continue to suffer oppression, remain undervalued, work more, earn less, have fewer choices and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces.

In the disappointing light of such scenarios, Generation Equality aims to raise various intricate webs of social inequalities, change them and build an equal world for future generations of women. Some of the small ways that can lead to a larger impact towards reaching equality are explained below.

1. Distribute/share the unpaid works

A recent Huffpost article by Brittany Wong shares how Millennial and young generations are opening up their mind towards wife/girlfriend sharing the work and financial responsibilities, but when it comes to doing the dishes, men are always one step backward. Women, in most countries are expected and obliged to do all the house works, from cleaning, cooking, laundry and grocery shopping. While women are increasingly being involved in work and education, traditional norms regarding household duties still remain the “women’s job”.

This has led to women doing more unpaid work and earning less. In some countries, women’s duty towards household management outweighs her career, leading to sudden break of career and work life. Too much work pressure induced along with house management duties causes increased stress, loss of motivation and sense of self-growth among women.

So, sharing the housework with your female members in the family is a foremost way to get near to Generation Equality. Be mindful in teaching the younger generation about the roles and responsibilities and teaching the house works to boys and girls equally.

2. Raise your voice against Sexism and Harassment

Sexist comments, physical and emotional harassment, body shaming, skin shaming, mansplaining and catcalling, are all done in such casual manner that it doesn’t appear to be harmful. Women face disrespectful behavior on a daily basis is both private and public spheres.

So, speak up in case of any events of harassment you witness. Speak up for yourself and for others. Blaming the victims for their appearance is widely acceptable in society. Call out loudly to such hypocritical and harmful victims blaming comments. Take help for other women, and be there for other women in the case of helplessness because the biggest power of women is the cooperation and mutual support. Collective female actions have powers to bring miracles which is evident through recent campaigns such as #Metoo movement.

3. Use Gender-neutral communication

Languages shape the mindsets and perceptions. Using gender-neutral terms while communicating makes a huge difference. Most of the widely used terms highlight dominance of masculinity over feminity. Words like ‘mankind’, ‘chairman’, ‘businessman’, ‘landlord’ can be replaced with a gender-neutral/non-binary terms like “humankind”, “Chair”, “representative”. “Landowner” respectively and as such.

It is high time, we break the gender stereotypes and accept the non-binary role in the society.

4. Fight for Equal Work environment

Women’s representation in leadership positions are significantly low and less meaningful. Demand for a more progressive work environment, equal representation at decision making boardrooms, equal work-equal pay, and feminist policies and facilities in the workplaces.

Some of the areas where women get disadvantages are during her maternity period. Women have to compromise significant time of her career and work life during her parenting period. So, demand for a just parental leave policies, to both biological parents. It is important to encourage fathers to join hands in child rearing and care giving, and share the responsibility as to not let only women lose her part of job and career.

Raise voices for organizing training and reintegration programs for women to catch up with works after her comeback to office.

Other ways to develop feminist facilities in workplaces include: well-equipped sanitation facilities, menstruation friendly toilets, menstruation leaves/ health care, having breastfeeding rooms, refrigerators for breast milk, child friendly structures, flexible working hours, or quality childcare services in or near the workplace.

5. Promoting feminist books, movies and more

Very less often, books and movies written by and about female characters get hyped. Next time you buy a book or watch a movie, consider buying a female author written about a female protagonist. One of the examples: Go set a watchman by Harper Lee.

Art and literature have great powers on conveying messages. In contemporary culture, movies and literature remain heavily male dominated, objectifying and sexualizing women, portraying them as a means to glorify male character, and undervaluing their existence as a whole. An analysis of popular firms across 11 countries found that only 23% films featured female protagonists. Therefore, choosing female authors and directors and raising their voices are another simple way to bring generation equality gap a little closer.

Reference:
Twelve small actions with big impact for Generation Equality, UN Women, medium.com, 25 Feb, 2020.

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