It is International Women’s Day today! With the clarion call to #PressforProgress this year, women will be focusing on the push for greater gender parity.
Gender para-what? What is gender parity, you say? It is a term that is related to, but not the same as gender equality. While gender equality is about providing women equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation, gender parity is a numerical concept. It is about the numbers and proportions that relate to women and girl’s participation in all spheres of life.
You may heard facts like these:
Women make just under 80 cents for every dollar that men make.
Or that female-led tech companies received just about US$1.5 billion in venture-capitalist investments last year, compared to about $58 billion for male-led companies.
Most parliaments remain male-dominated, with a global average of only 22 per cent women.
These statistics shows us what the actual realities are with regard to gender equality, it shows us how far we need to go.
With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away, there’s much to be done! But what can we do as busy women – whether mother, sisters or friends – to contribute to the cause? Here are some ideas:
Educate ourselves further
You don’t need to get a Masters in Women’s Studies to help #PressforProgress or to fight for greater equality! Read up about the challenges and problems faced by women in your community, society and country. Research what the women leaders, feminists and community activists are fighting for, and see how you could help empower others. Consider your own privilege, and how you could be oppressing other women unwittingly. Melinda Gates believes that when women and girls are empowered to live to their full potential, everyone benefits exponentially.
Be Resilient & Trust Yourself
Cultural norms or societal expectations may see people trying to diminish your sense of self or achievements. Trust your own instincts and drive, whether in your career or personal life. Reflect on where you want to be, and how you want to get there. We all make mistakes and errors in judgement – be kind to yourself and move on forward. Be resilient, and be bold. For inspiration, look at all the legion of women entrepreneurs out in Malaysia right now absolutely killing it!
Get a mentor and be a mentor
Generous mentors can change lives, so find women you admire and can help you navigate your chosen path. Be prepared to learn and support each other. And when you yourself are in a position of power or influence, it is your turn to give back and inspire a new generation of women and girls.
Band with other women
In the workplace, women can fight for their rights better if they stick together. Women working together in a union, for example, can tackle biases head on and together deliver fair recognition, pay and conditions for women at work.
Get Used to Speaking Up and Out
With the #MeToo movement sweeping across industries around the world last year, you may have heard of counter arguments or backlash against women who have spoken out. Or comments that ‘things have gone too far’. It is worthwhile to remember that everything may seem dramatic and intense because women have only just started to speak their truth and share their experiences, with each other. Whether it is about consent, power, sexuality or choice, we are only just beginning to peel layers and discuss issues openly. Men have had a long time – since the dawn of humankind! – to impose their narratives, interpretation and history. We have only just begun. So don’t hesitate to keep talking to your mothers, sisters and friends about their feelings and experiences – chances are, you will learn new things with every conversation.
Teach Our Kids
Gender biases can start early in life. Women are chronically under-represented in positions of leadership in politics and business, not to mention areas like science, sports and many others. Teach our girls that they can be more than stereotypes. Introduce them to literature about women who have excelled in the fields of math or science. Teach our boys that it is okay for them to express their feelings and to feel vulnerable. Toxic masculinity hurts, and boys lose the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence. Explain how important this is to friends and family. Let us do right by all our children.
Happy International Women’s Day!
By Laych Koh
Laych Koh is the editor-in-chief of makchic.com