By definitions, Gender equity is the process of being fair to women and men. To ensure fairness, strategies and measures must often be available to compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field.
Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender. In that case therefore, equity leads to equality in any given community or society.
That known, gone are the days when a woman remained behind, locked out of job and political markets, and totally out of decision and policy making. Nonetheless, isn’t the woman asking for so much? Are they not stepping and injuring the male gender?
Well, Maybe, Maybe Not!
History not the subject, but the past gender setting in the community tells us that for centuries, women were locked up in the prison of ignorance – for they could not access education, locked up in poverty – for they never owned anything for themselves on earth among many other socially constructed narratives that left them on the page bottom on the ladder.
Nonetheless, a woman today thinks like one but acts like a man. They have studied, they seek and, or create jobs and are leaders in their own right. They have resorted to several advocacies to see to it that they break the socially constructed beliefs and norms. And, there is apparently a steady progress recorded since by the female gender on their journey to what they are advocating for – ‘Equity and Equality’ in Uganda’s case.
Largely regarded as a weak sex, a house wife and, or a source of dowry to families, lately the stereotyping is breaking and the narrative has since changed. Today, women are in offices as CEO’s and Directors, and have since left the kitchen and those other back rooms. A woman today thinks what man can do she can do and the reverse is true, especially if it’s not biological and, or scientific.
For instance, a man cannot conceive and that is natural just like a woman cannot imbue or impregnate, which is also natural and these are fundamentally acknowledged by either gender. The public policy concept of assessing the implications for people of different genders, policy planned action or call it gender mainstreaming, including legislation and programmes, has offered a pluralistic approach that values the diversity among people of different genders especially the female gender.
This concept of gender mainstreaming was first proposed at the 1985 Third World Conference on Women and has subsequently been pushed in the United Nations development community. The idea was formally featured in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, and was cited in the document that resulted from the conference, the Beijing Platform for Action.
That in action and with the girl child continuously kept in school learning up to institutions of higher learning, the girl has been empowered to do a lot more than just kitchen, bedroom, babying and garden work-call it ‘Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW). The ancient style has undeniably changed and you can’t find a woman for a wife today like your grandma or your mother. Very different species today!
So, when your dear wife once challenges you to “Marry your mother” if you wanted her to serve you water in the bathroom for bathing don’t complain. She is only reminding you that you both can do anything or everything regardless of our sexual characteristics. Not stepping on you and injuring your rights. Look, that early morning when she is breast feeding among other careful things to fix on the baby before she leaves for the market where she earns an extra penny to the home/family, you can be doing something else for yourself as a man, or else help her prepare breakfast meals.
Woman is not a Donkey!
In the ancient setting, families had indeed lessened the girl/woman to a donkey. Reason. They have been engaged in domestic work like gardening and a lot of other domestic work. While the men went unquestionably in bars, on jobs and with other women and also idling out unproductively. The million-dollar question however is, is a woman a donkey? Nope!
In the women at heart campaign, gender issues experts share why the female gender should be at the center in all walks of life. Judith Atim, Program Officer at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Uganda & South Sudan and also an expert on the gender issues says there is need in the community to break such community and social constructs.
She says, social constructs aside, the women and their societal roles have since evolved through this generation. They therefore are each day looking at taking a step, a very bold step by-the-way, walking towards equity and equality through the different gender issues’ advocacy opportunities.
Starting the Walk
“Change the narrative, shape positive narratives and begin Portraying the woman not as exceptional, but as leaders and as experts in their own right” Atim maintains. Though some circles will tell you that a woman is more respected when married than not, Judith Atim says, yes, but according to her, there is more to life than marriage. Atim does not honestly advocate for opting out of marriages (Divorce) but if the relationship is the kind where the husband does not respect the wife, divorce is apparently inevitable. For marriage is mutual and respecting.
Along the way the woman will face challenges in the process of walking from their current point to the next one. The women ongoing struggles include ensuring equal economic opportunities, educational equity, and an end to gender-based violence. For many women advocating or on the journey of equity and equality, it’s true it’s a challenging journey but will get there someday hopefully.
Say if this woman becomes a single mother after divorcing, she is challenged by single motherhood somewhere. The different female gender equity and equality is however not preaching divorce, but preaching fairness because separation from the marriage relationship will impact negatively on the children. Talks of the feelings of say loss, the anger, the confusion around the whole process especially impacting on the children as everything transitions.
These children need an outlet for their emotions and would therefore require someone to talk to, someone who will listen. Slain South African reggae/raga artist Lucky Dube in one of his songs, ‘think about the child’ strongly noted how a child raised without the parent (Mother/Father) will face the world alone. For, without the mother/father who is gonna tell them that this right/wrong?
In their advocacy, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), an advocacy organization that exists to coordinate collective action among women’s rights and gender equality talks of involving the man so that while they walk, they are avoiding stepping on and injuring the male gender. They therefore have involved the men in their struggle to changing the narrative.
The man is being preached to, to stop any prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls being exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. In such wisdom the society losses a lot if the girl/woman stands to be marginalized in all life’s aspects. Many of these manifestations can only change if the girl/woman is valued more.
The women intend to change holistically through different policy fora like the National Gender Policy NGP) which identifies gender barriers to access to justice to include the low status of women, power imbalances in the household as well as inadequate knowledge and information on legal rights. Yes, the woman is not injuring the man; She is simple telling everyone that she is also human with same rights like the other gender. Simple!
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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