By Elizabeth Ofori, GM @TLBBHFoundation
This week, I’ve been thinking about so many things… And one of them is the issue of Gender Equality and Balance…
I am proud of how far we’ve come as a people towards ending some of the harsh discrimination that hitherto existed or in some forms still exists against women and girls worldwide. I am particularly proud of the progress we’re making in ensuring that women and girls everywhere have the same privileges and opportunities as men and boys.
But I have a few perspectives I want to share on the issue.
In recent engagements, I observed among some colleagues, two huge schools of thought on the issue and I soon realized that these two divergent views actually do exist on a much larger scale.
1. The first school of thought believe that there’s too much “noise” being made about women and girls and discrimination against them and all that. They assert the view that women and girls are receiving so much attention that men and boys are being driven into the background so women and girls take center stage.
2. The second school of thought holds the view that it is a justifiable cause to be putting so much emphasis on women and girls if there’s any chance to right the wrong that has been done against women for years now. They believe that the playing field stands a chance of being leveled for both groups (women and girls and men and boys) if only they keep on with the female empowerment cause that is being embarked on now.
My perspective on the matter
First, femininity and feminism are 2 different concepts that are not mutually exclusive. I don’t need to lose my femininity just because I am a feminist.
Second, I do not accept that balance only means 50/50. A tonne of cotton will weigh the same as a tonne of gold but there will be obvious and significant differences in the volume of the two. A bag of cotton will most likely not necessarily weigh the same as a bag of gold. My point is, it matters what measuring unit, or medium you use to judge a particular thing or person… So to achieve balance, you don’t try to fix the nature of the thing, you provide the same unit of measurement and allow whatever you are measuring to live up to that unit in whatever way it presents itself. So I don’t ask the cotton to come in a bar shape for its tonne measurement just because the gold comes in a bar shape or vice versa. If the cotton has to present itself in 10 bags just to meet its tonne measurements doesn’t mean the gold has to come in 10 bars. The equality here is that both gold and cotton must weigh a tonne without prejudice to their individual nature. That is balance. So like I said, it’s not nature, it’s the yardstick we need to check.
Third, If hitherto, gold has been discriminated against due to its metallic nature and cotton has been favored, deciding to reverse or correct the situation by favoring gold over cotton does not actually achieve that goal. What you have only succeeded in doing is flipping the odds against cotton and hence beginning or should I say repeating the same vicious cycle of inequality, but this time in the opposite direction. What you actually want to do is to set a new and better precedent where both can equally express their unique nature and measure up to set standards in whatever form that comes naturally and is unique to them.
I will conclude with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie ” If you criticize X in women, but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women”.
And I say; the same is true in vice versa: If you criticize X in men but do not criticize X in women, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with men.
This sums up what true equality is.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Let the dialogue begin.