Men on International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (IWD) is a day celebrating the achievements of women and it also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. I believe it’s vital that we should include men in this conversation. It’s because gender equality is not a female issue, it’s a social and economic imperative. The majority of men agree that gender equality can be achieved with men’s support too, however, around half think that they are being expected to do too much. Women won’t achieve equality unless men take action to support women’s rights too.

A balanced world is a better world. Collectively everyone everywhere can strive for women's equality and continue to make positive gains. I personally believe that gender equality has not gone far enough. While the issues we priorities may be different country by country, there is a real consensus that we men must play our part if we are to achieve true parity between the sexes. It is also heartening to see that attitudes towards male and female roles are changing. Politicians and business leaders must hear and act on that message. We need to redouble efforts to accelerate progress in tackling gender gaps and increasing female representation in positions of power.

Education is the area where people think equality will be achieved first. But the gender gap remains the widest and that progress has stalled or even reversed in some countries. Apart from this Sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical violence, equal pay, and domestic abuse are still seen as the top issues facing women across the globe. As sons, brothers, friends, husbands, fathers & grandfathers, it's our responsibility to assure a safer environment with accessible freedom for our mothers, sisters, friends, wives, daughters, and granddaughters. I am happy that attitudes towards masculinity are changing. Childcare is no longer seen as a women’s job and the majority say they would be comfortable with a female boss. In most countries, childcare is no longer seen as the preserve of the woman.

Anyways, there is still a long road ahead to achieving gender equality globally. What’s more, we know from previous work that people underestimate the scale of the task at hand. However, it is clear that attitudes towards masculinity and gender roles are changing. And people are optimistic that discrimination in some aspects of life – such as education will end in the next couple of decades. However, in order to progress in many other spheres, a number of fundamentals need to change – from ensuring women are safe from violence and harassment and that women and men have equal pay at work. And none of this can be achieved without the support of men. Men are integral if we are to achieve balance for the better.

The good news is that the majority of men support gender equality, even if they don’t always know how to turn that support into action. So it is important to understand healthy masculinity, and how to get men invested in achieving gender equality efficiently. So, what we as men can do to be more effective? I can shorten it down to two simple steps. 1-Listen to women and pay attention to the specific ways in which they want to be supported. 2-Know when to step back and when to step in. Individual actions make an enormous impact, but equally important are systemic, organizational efforts that support women and advance gender equality.

Equality is a leadership opportunity. Men are currently holding the majority of leadership positions, that we have the unique opportunity to take action and spearhead change. IWD may officially be one day, but really, it’s every day. So I challenge each of you, regardless of the gender you identify with or the position you hold, to commit to one action to advance equality. It can be as small as listening, or as big as changing organizational policies, but I promise you that its impact will be enormous.

Abdul Thawwab Ishaque (CPT, Dip in ICT)
Founder: SL Web Cast,
TIMUNer, Public Speaker, Social Activist

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