In my many columns in the last year and more, I have delved into issues around gender, the context of diversity and inclusion and leadership and gender and its relationship. I remember writing a piece on women’s day tokenism and how making this a day’s event or extending it into a monthly exercise would be disservice to equality and the work in the space itself.
While I still hold steadfast to that and to the fact that we should rise above the tokenism, let me present to you some facts and explore the International Women’s Day 2020 theme for the year – “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights” #eachforequal.
Gender equality has a strong leadership lens and we need champions of diversity and people who recognise and address conscious and unconscious bias and lead their teams to do the same are imperative to our framework.
Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a world and business issue. Like Ban Ki Moon said, “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
Let’s look at the world around us in 2020 and some stats on gender inequality and why the concerns exist, are real and need to be addressed.
According to an article in the World Economic Forum written on 8th March 2019, by Kate Whiting, here are some facts:
- Women are 47% more likely to suffer severe injuries in car crashes because safety features are designed for men
- 33,000 girls become child brides every day
- Women in rural parts of Africa spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water
- It will take 108 years to close the gender gap
- Only 6 countries give women equal legal work rights as men
- 22% of AI professionals are women – and it could be down to lack of confidence
- For every female film character, there are 2.24 men
It doesn’t end there, less than 5% CEO’s are women, at least one fourth of the women’s workforce experiences sexual harassment at the workplace, women earn on an average 20% less than men and homes continue to be the most unsafe spaces for women.
Women bear a far bigger brunt with socio-economic-environmental issues than men do. The global economic gender gap will take 202 years to close at the rate of change we are at.
With this at stake, if you ask me why I am a feminist, which by the way means someone who wants equal access and opportunities, no matter what wave of feminism they align with, my answer is – On this journey to equality, where we are still far from it and fighting misogyny, chauvinism and patriarchy every step of the way, I choose to be an unapologetic feminist…
This brings me to this year’s theme and concept and #eachforequal resonates so well with me. This refers to collective individualism and encourages everyone to thing from a point of view of equal rights, equal access, equal reach, equal coverage, equal opportunities at every juncture, from media to healthcare to education and jobs, the gaps need to be bridged.
So, equalising for equality, one step at a time… Let’s have a more tolerant, less biased and a far more equal world that we build and create around us for ourselves and the people around us.
Here’s a poem I wrote last year in context of feminism and I found it relevant to place here with this piece…
I am an unapologetic feminist,
If your understanding of the word,
Is skewed and distorted,
If you think being a feminist is a shame,
If you are limited in your world view,
It’s unfortunate my dear,
That your perspective is narrow,
I am a feminist because – EQUALITY,
I am a feminist because – EQUAL PAY,
I am a feminist because – EQUAL RIGHTS,
I am a feminist because – EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES,
I am a feminist because – EDUCATION FOR ALL,
I am a feminist because – HEALTHCARE FOR ALL,
I could go on forever and tell you why we need a world of feminists,
Why we still need feminism,
Why we aren’t there yet,
Why while we are different genders,
We are still equal,
Why we are still on the fight for equality,
Maybe it’s not a fight, maybe a debate,
Or maybe a journey to equality,
I could go on about why feminism is good for this world,
Why women and men should promote it,
I could tell you about the waves of feminism,
About the first and the second and the third,
And how feminism isn’t just about bra burning man hating rebellion,
About how even that was relevant when it happened,
About how it’s not a shame to be a feminist,
About how being feminist isn’t one label,
About how feminism is also about not being a poster girl for an agenda,
But about my feminism and your feminism coexisting,
Respectful of our lives and choices,
How feminism is about the freedom to make those choices,
But you will only choose to label me,
And my tribe,
You will frown down on such conversations,
Because in your limited view,
All you see is your misrepresentation,
Of this concept called – FEMINISM! .
— From an unapologetic feminist…
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