This month we celebrate International Women’s Day, the theme being ‘Break The Bias. This has been a very important topic for society that has dominated the airwaves for such a long time. Infact nowadays, everywhere you look, you will see a host of very accomplished and empowered women doing great things. And even better is the fact that a lot of these wonderful women have come up with programs to grow and empower other women around them to the same, if not better levels of greatness. Programs such as the Activate Women in Leadership Africa program and African Leading Ladies which has become quite popular on Facebook, all designed to ensure that women are learning from each other. I even like what my good friend Rukia Sebit does at her after-school program for primary school girls called Sunflower that was started with the very intention of giving the girls around our slum areas a better chance at life-a chance to blossom.
Such initiatives are indeed very impactful. What I would like to refer to the ‘Ying’ of Gender Equality. And as with everything in life, every ‘Ying’, must have its own ‘Yang’. For me, the Yang of all this is the great possibility that the boy child may very soon be disenfranchised. Traditionally, the man has been raised to be ‘macho’ or ‘masculine’ in all matters to do with life. ‘That is not how a man is expected to behave’ or ‘Men do not show emotion’ or ‘Pull yourself together and act like a man’ are statements that some of us grew up listening to in our African homes. This only means that the man has been programed to be an autocratic provider or the ‘man of steel’ for lack of a better word.
But the world is changing, and our men need to be prepared for a future in which the gender narrative will continue to dominate every environment and possibly even our homes. Look at it this way: with the many advancements in world today, the workforce is shrinking drastically as employers are looking to consolidate and automate roles. That aside, conscientious organizations are striving towards fulfilling their commitment towards meeting SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by achieving certain set targets towards ensuring a gender equal workforce.
Consequently, the dominant power that was previously held by the man will shift as more educated women dominate the talented workforce. This therefore means that we must look out for and prepare our boys accordingly. And even though the numbers are still not equally tilted, we must be careful how we drive this gender narrative.
The generation behind us is watching keenly and they need to see a society that is concerned about both genders without preferring one gender over the other. There is still time to balance the equation before it gets too late. This year’s IWD theme challenges us to “break biases”. One bias that I would like to break is the assumption that the boychild is thrivingly fitting into the mold. We must break this and more importantly, do something about it now! They need not be forgotten; they need not be overlooked. They need not feel lost as we raise or empower the girlchild.
- To all the women out there: as you lift a fellow woman today, give a hand to the men around you as well.
- To men: please stand up and help show the way for the younger male generation. I see more female bashing movements than male empowerment strongholds out there. Can we change the narrative?
- To employers: It’s not just about meeting the set gender metrics, it’s about ensuring we offer an equal opportunity for both genders in all aspects.
With that, I wish you a bias free month ahead!