Another Solar year is almost finished and it’s time for making a balance of achievements regarding gender equality in the personal and global spheres and to set some guiding priorities for the year that starts.
Take some time to reflect on what you have achieved in your personal life this year in what regards your empowerment as a woman. Where are you now compared to the previous year? What are the new understandings you have? What are the new tools to deal with situations and people you have acquired? What are the actions you took that contributed to your empowerment and human development? Who was there supporting you in your development? What are the weaknesses you still need to work on? These and other questions can guide you into the new year with a sense of achievement and power that arises not from having all answers right, but from the feeling of being in the right path towards your own development and freedom.
In terms of the achievements attained this year on gender equality at global level UN Women identifies some important ones in spheres as diverse as fight against gender based violence, work, sciences, sport, child marriage, legal, political, media, etc.. While these are all important achievements let’s bear in mind that new laws and policies must be implemented and that numbers are a ‘quantity factor’ and very often hide a (lack of) ‘quality factor’ that must be developed as a second step. And also remind ourselves that the path towards equality takes ages to build and few seconds to destroy thus requiring all our attention not to move backwards.
And what’s next? Is my wish to write some lines on what I believe are some priorities on the gender equality movement for the next year.
Priority number one is to bring more men into the movement. Gender equality is still seen as a women’s issue and this must change, because otherwise it would be called ‘women’s equality’ instead of gender equality. Gender refers to all possible genders in the gender continuum and therefore the gender equality movement must be inclusive of all people. The fact is that, despite their gender, all people are oppressed by gender roles and stereotypes. Some genders, namely men, feel to have more privileges, and indeed they do have. But men are actually excluded from very important spheres of human life, for instance emotional life, care and love work, and they are expected to fulfil certain impossible expectations, like being the number one provider, being always strong and right, taking right decisions alone, and so on. Moving towards more balanced notions of masculinities is certainly a priority already acknowledged by few men. Now the effort must be for these conscious men to take a leading role on supporting other men towards this understanding and practice.
A second priority should be to work towards community by bringing the different gender movements and groups to work more closely together, cooperating towards the achievement of common goals. The separation and division between LGBTQI, white women’s movement, black women’s movement, men’s movement, and do on, is a weakness that should be overcame in order to make a stronger movement that works cooperatively with a long-term perspective. Working towards community will require an effort from the different parts involved, the effort of getting to know and accepting each other, the effort of integrating all views into a more complex and hence truer picture, the effort of setting common goals and defining a strategic plan of concerted actions. Diversity will be a great asset of this wider community as many roles must be fulfilled and many different actions must be taken to implement this common strategic plan.
A third essential priority is to free women and other groups being discriminated against from the burden of having to take the responsibility alone for their own empowerment and rights. As a woman I feel often tired of constantly being asked to deal with my stuff, to deal with sexism, to excuse it, to relax, to give time, to understand. I say ENOUGH! What about asking sexists to deal with their own stuff and take responsibility for their behaviour, making an effort to open their narrow mind and embrace otherness into their egocentric world? Why not starting empowerment groups for sexist people, instead of asking women and other groups being discriminated against to empower themselves with no effort and commitment from the other side? If we for once change the concept of victim and weakness, we would actually see many men and sexist, racist, and other ‘ists’ for what they really are: human beings in pain and in need of help to become more human and loving, in real need of help to embrace reality in its complexity, to see the Earth as friend and not as a resource to exploit, to get out of their ego prison. I pity those who need to put someone down to feel better, I truly do.
In the era of ‘pseudo-communication’ it becomes necessary to ask from all media more responsibility in the fulfilment of their role in contributing to end gender inequalities. This is thus the forth priority I identify for the year 2017, to have media taking an active role in creating greater gender equality. This would pass through simple actions: having more non-sexist women in the top management of media organisations, women who have the courage to be inspiring leaders by designing and implementing concrete measures towards gender equality, for instance stop using gender stereotypes in adds and stop using women’s bodies as a ‘sell everything sort of object’, develop creative ways to promote equality in the media, create tools that can track and delete sexist and other forms of hate speech from digital media. These are few that come to my mind as I write but certainly many more could be set up. It is crucial that all stakeholders assume their responsibility in creating a world free from discrimination and oppression.
It is essential that human beings uplift their consciousness to a higher level, stop using cynicism as an excuse for not being whole and coherent, putting their efforts in bringing the institutions they lead towards a next level.
I final priority comes in the form of a Call to Action for Women to assume their leadership in a local and global scale towards a world shaped by alternative values and ways of doing and being. I want to call it a feminine leadership approach, which brings greater value to care and love, to bonding and community, to cooperation and communication, to being coherent and integral, to create a different set of priorities, that is about equality and empowerment of individual differences, acceptance and complementarity. I have this dream of seeing women of all ages taking the lead in their local communities and shaping different and human places of empowerment while simultaneously creating learning contexts for other women to take the lead, showing with their actions that it is possible to be and act differently, to be happy and to be whole.
So allow me to close this post with this open and warm invitation to all Women to own their great power and let their inner leader to surface and shape a true world community!