Its another year, another woman’s day, and the struggle for gender equality and women’s rights continues. Every day sees women struggling to reach their full potential. Every day leaders around the world, both private and public sectors, announce positive strives and reforms for women empowerment. Over the years the world has seen great improvement in women’s rights and freedoms. Their working conditions have greatly improved. The world is seeing more and more women being in leadership positions. It is all great for women today than probably 20 years ago and more and more is done to improve the lives of women today. A young girl today has more or else similar opportunities like the boy child.
Really, it looks all good for women, outside! Really. NOT! Most of women’s rights and policies are on paper only. Its a fact that women earn less than men and work longer hours. Its a fact that women are not offered the same opportunities, that men and women are marginalised at work in terms of career advancement and employment opportunities. A woman, especially a mother, is more likely to be sidelined for an employment opportunity or career advancement. Experts agree that pregnancy or rather motherhood is seen as a career setback. Motherhood means cutting back on the length of hours one works so as to be home on time, to go to school meetings and extra curricula activities, it means emergency leave due to childhood sickness. It doesn’t look good for women. Hence more and more women in the corporate world postpone motherhood and cutback on the length of their maternity leave. Some employees consider hiring a mother a not so good decision for business.
Family might not be good for women but for a man it is a career advancement. A married father is more likely to have his career propelled than a married mother. A married man, especially who is a father is seen as a model for maturity, commitment and honesty and therefore an asset. A mother on the other, married or not, is seen as a liability. This is something that is not written in company policies but it happens behind closed doors. Policies against gender marginalization might be in place but societal mindsets are still far away.
Speaking of society, despite women being leaders in the society and bringing in positive changes, they are still seen as not as capable. Women in leadership positions especially politics have suffered more for aspiring to be in higher offices. They are judged harshly than male leaders. Society feel they are not capable and are more likely to be persecuted than their male counterparts. For instance I believe that had Theresa May been a man she wouldn’t be meeting with such resistance in the Brexit negotiations. Probably that’s the reason why policies fail. Societies are still not as progressive as policies. I mean how can one implement something that he/she does not believe in. Governments need to invest more in changing the mindset of their societies for policies to work.
For instance, in my society in Botswana, whenever there is an incident of gender based violence, the question that is asked is ‘what did she do to him?’, which implies justification for that violence. That kind of mindset simply set us back in the war against women’s right and Gender based violence.
All in all, the world needs to change its mindset for policies to work. I mean the Beijing Conference came and went. Governments ratified their policies but more than 20 years later, things have not really changed much, they are all in paper. Implementation needs to take place, time to talk and write has long gone. Its time to walk the talk and writing
Happy Women’s day to all women and girls around the world. special shout out to my Black sisters around the world