Every year, March 8 marks the International Women’s Day. A day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate women and advocate women’s rights and gender equality.
This year’s theme is Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an equal future.
This year we are choosing to be that generation that finally realized or achieves gender equality by giving women their due diligence. We finally recognize that women’s rights are also human rights and therefore matter equally. To be able to think this way, we have to truly understand what gender equality is.
Gender equality is not sameness in biology or physiology. (This is the fallacious assertion that some people point out when you tell them that men and women are equal). Instead, it is the perspective that men and women are equal in value. Hence, they, both, should be taken seriously and treated with respect.
Think of it like racial equality. The concept of people having different races, and yet we find a common denominator for everyone – humanity. Equality does not mean sameness. We are different, but we are all equal. This is why we believe that people of different races, tribes and ethnic groups are equal. Does that mean they are the same? We have people with dark skin and some with lighter skin. We have people with curly hair, some with straight hair. Even among the male gender, some people are well-built, some are lean. Some are short, some are tall.
Do we now say that people are not equal because of their physical and biological differences? Who gets to decide who is superior to the other and with what parameters? The critical similarity or reason why everyone is equal in value regardless of what they are or how they look is because we are all humans. And because we are humans, we are equal in value. This is what gender equality is all about – reminding us about our humanity. Men and women are equal in value. No gender is superior or inferior to the other. That’s what gender equality seeks to ensure. Yes, there are differences, but in these differences, there is uniqueness for the two genders. At the thought of gender equality, some interpret it to mean automatically mean one gender trying to be like or the same as the other gender.
In these differences, the most important thing is to play complementary roles and to co-exist in unity. There is a need to live together in harmony, knowing fully well that the sky is big enough for everyone to thrive, be it male or female. The misconception that gender equality is commensurate to male peril needs to be buried. It is to die until its roots wither away. Many Africans think that when women have equal rights and opportunities as their male counterparts, it means less power or less relevance for men. For me, this simply means there will be an equal playing ground for everyone to thrive without bias. It merely means that fairness and justice are ensured. Gender equality does not seek to incapacitate the man or make him a being less than or of low importance to women. It aims to show everyone that humanity comes before gender.
As a generation that stands for equality, we are going to ensure that we support women by not hindering their ambition or preventing them from accessing opportunities. We are going to ensure that women’s rights are upheld with dedication, and our voices are heard. We are going to ensure that women participate in governance and have front row seats in decision-making issues. We will also ensure that women are well protected from all forms of domestic violence and abuse. We will influence capable and deserving women to get into corridors of power and are given opportunities to lead and be at the forefront of affairs both locally or internationally.
From the cradle, we would teach our children (both boys and girls) the concept of gender equality. No longer would we harp on gender roles. We would also get rid of sexist jokes and offensive stereotypes. Our children would grow up daring to dream and becoming whatever their hearts want. This is the generation we are living in today. The generation that would not see incompetence or weakness as female and logic or strength as male. The generation that would not prevent women from being leaders or shame them because they choose to focus on and prioritize their careers before marriage. The generation that would take women seriously and ensure that their voices are heard from grassroots to presidential villas.
We are all for generation equality, and we realize women’s rights for an equal future!