Tag Archives: Gender Equality

International Women’s Day: I Celebrate

It’s International Women’s Day and today, as with everyday, I celebrate (with) all women and girls around the world!

Source: UN Women social media pack for IWD 2014

Source: UN Women social media pack for IWD 2014

I commend us all for the sacrifices we make, the burdens we bear, the changes we influence, the care we give, the love we share, the hope we restore, the strength we embody, going against the odds to succeed, and for a million other things we represent and do as women in this world.

I celebrate the Queens we are, giving birth to Princesses and Princes, partners to Kings, Mothers of the Universe and leaders in our Kingdoms. I celebrate us Lingueres, for even when the crown gets heavy, we still tote it atop our heads with dignity and unrivaled strength!

I celebrate my mother, my ultimate Linguere, for going against all the odds and raising her children and others under her care all alone. I never have to look far for motivation and inspiration and I pray I become even half the woman she is. I celebrate my grandmother too, for setting the pace and inspiring strength through generations.

I celebrate my teachers, mentors, and the many women taking the lead in developing our communities, countries, continents and the world. Your leadership paves the way for greatness and the future is bright for the younger generation.

Source: UN Women Social Media Pack for #HeForShe campaign

Source: UN Women Social Media Pack for #HeForShe campaign

I celebrate the woman who wakes up as early as 5am, takes care of her household chores and heads out to the farms, the markets, the offices etc to earn a living and give her children a better life than she had.

I celebrate and empathise with that woman who wakes up and tries to cover bruises on her body and face, a result of the severe beating she received from her partner the night before.

I celebrate and give my voice to the little girl lying on a mat, legs splayed apart while older women around her engage in excited chatter, as she loses her clitoris and becomes a ‘full woman’.

I lie beside the mother who is forced to abort her baby -one she had fallen in love with- just because it came with a vagina and is, therefore, worth little or nothing at all. Womanhood is sacred and I celebrate her today.

I remember the many victims of honor killings- stoned to death, drowned, suffocated, slaughtered, shot at- all in the name of restoring dignity. May God in heaven grant you the pleasures and freedom you were deprived of here on Earth.

I stand with all girls and women who’ve had their innocence stolen in childhood, during war, down that dark alley, within the walls of the homes where we are supposed to feel safe. I celebrate you and share my hugs when the hot flashes return and the trauma continues, even after 15 years. Rape is not your fault and you have nothing to be guilty for.

I celebrate, stand by and add my voice to the cries and calls of all women and girls who have been, are and will be victims of violence. One in three women could be me… and it is!

I celebrate the women who are rising against the status quo and proving that we are strong, phenomenal and forces to reckon with.

This year, the United Nations celebrates IWD with the theme ‘Equality for Women is progress for all’ and calls for more involvement from men and boys through the #HeForShe campaign. Partnership is the way forward. 

So today, I also celebrate our men and boys! Yes, I shall never tire of saying we can only really make great progress if we work together as partners. This is what the world needs and it will lead to progress in attaining equality and development. Gender equality is not just a women’s issue; it is humanity’s issue!

1896941_10151927618591905_205612152_n (1)

Source: UN Women Social Media Pack for #HeForShe campaign

I celebrate the men in my life, and around the world, who recognise that women are equal beings and who continue to support us and work with us as we strive for excellence. I celebrate and commend all men who see women as partners and are not intimidated by a woman’s success.

I celebrate the men who say NO to violence and are ready to protect the women folk from any of its forms.

I have had quite a handful of these amazing men in my life and suffice to say, it has made a big difference and contributed to who I am. They’ve been some of my biggest mentors and supporters and I’m grateful for their presence in my life. I celebrate my WE-MEN today! I love you all!

Remember, equality for women is indeed progress for all! Let us reflect on this and work towards a better world, where gender is no longer an obstacle to success and growth.

Happy Women’s Day everyone!

Advertisements

Gender Equality: A Call For Understanding And Partnership #WCY2014

For many decades, gender equality has been the subject of much debate, with the main issue being its nonexistence in our world. By nonexistence, we refer to the remarkable absence of equality and equity in various spheres, ranging from the social to the economic, political and other sectors.

It is no coincidence and certainly with great reason that the promotion of gender equality figures in the Millennium Development Goals, with special focus on equal access to education, political leadership and employment opportunities. Arguments have linked improvements in promoting gender equality to an increased progress in attaining the other seven MDGs for obvious reasons.

It is important to note that the call for gender equality predates the establishment of the MDGs, reaching far back into history and gaining greater momentum around the beginning of the 19th century. The movement was further pronounced by significant milestones like the creation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the 2005 Beijing Platform for Action, among others.

Young men and women working together; partnership is key

Young men and women working together; partnership is key

Barely a year to the target date for the attainment of the MDGs, the progress made in the various sectors still leave much to be desired. Gender inequality remains a significant problem in most parts of the world, regardless of economic, political and social advancements registered.

One is bound to question the effectiveness of the various projects and measures put in place to promote the cause and ensure much progress is made. Why haven’t we seen more improvements in this area, despite the growth in human rights and especially, feminist groups working for a common cause?

The growth in the women’s movement did not leave the world indifferent; very significant encouragement and criticism have been received. Equally significant is the reaction to the nature of the participants in and promoters of the cause for gender equality. It has become normal to identify gender equality as a women’s issue, extending to the labeling of women’s rights advocates with various adjectives, most of which are not positive. Angry, bitter, man-hating, male-bashing, brainwashed are just a few. This perpetuates the misconception that advocacy for gender equality is a domain exclusively for women, most of whom personify the adjectives listed above.

It is evident that one of the main issues hindering progress in achieving gender equality is the existence and preservation of traditional gender roles that naturally make leaders of men and followers of women. This already creates an “us VS them” dynamic, that continues to set one group against the other, in sticking with the binary definition of gender. However, it would be unfair to blame men for all the disparities in this cause, despite the suggestions that the opposition or passivity is due to the ‘fear’ of being overtaken and dominated by women. Arguments have presented women as contributors to the perpetuation of the challenges caused by gender roles, through their decisions to stick with the familiar and preserve their traditions and cultures.

This stems from a general misunderstanding of the call for gender equality, or the equally renowned fifty-fifty slogan and their objectives. It is, therefore, very important that people are sensitised and educated about the aims of the movement to foster better understanding and consequently increased participation in its promotion.

Only when all parties are aware and well-informed can we register even more progress in attaining equality and ending discrimination due to one’s gender. The empowerment of women translates to marked development in various sectors, as everyone is free to contribute their quota and develop themselves, their families and their communities.

It is also crucial that women’s rights groups work towards an end to the alienation of men from the work being done to advance gender equality. This has been a cause for concern and has contributed to the belief that promoting gender equality is a women’s issue, when it really affects people from everywhere around the world.

For this reason, gender equality should be everyone’s concern – male or female. With concerted efforts, preceded by equal opportunities, we’ll observe a growth in productivity and production while registering declines in issues like Violence Against Women touching on problems like early and forced marriages, domestic violence, FGM/C, rape culture etc, as well as the over-expectations on men to show dominance among other issues born from patriarchy. Respect of human rights flourishes and the existence of level grounds for all will positively affect the progress made on other development goals.

As the world transitions from the MDGs to the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, it will be beneficial to establish more inclusive approaches and promote more education on gender equality, its benefits and the consequent ripple effect of its progress with regards to other goals and causes.

There is strength in unity and our differences as humans should never be a threshold for injustice, inequality and the violation of basic human rights. Gender equality affects us all and should be everyone’s concern. It is not just a women’s issue. It is humanity’s issue.