By Abu Bakarr Benson, Youth & Girl Activist, Sierra Leone
Gender equality is a term that is commonly misunderstood by many. The idea of Gender Equality does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike. The term “Gender Equality” means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections.
But why the focus of gender equality is mostly penetrated on securing women’s rights and empowerment?
Some would say it is because they’re vulnerable. Well, to a certain degree, they may be right/wrong depending on the context or angle they’re looking at it. In most cases, I normally refute such assertions that women are vulnerable. In fact, it is disrespectful to say that women are vulnerable especially when the concept of gender equality is being discussed, and to a very large extent, it is a form of gender stereotype even among the elites, there are some who hold such beliefs.
If women are capable of performing the same tasks as men do, sometimes even better, how is the “vulnerability” come into play? Subjecting women to vulnerability are one of the many reasons why women were marginalized.
What I think is the reason why the focus of gender equality focuses more on women’s right and empowerment, it is not because they’re vulnerable (of course they’re not), but because they’re the discriminated and marginalised group that need special attention and consideration and to foster equal access of opportunities and economic livelihoods.
Our “patriarchal” laws, cultures and traditions, for many years, have been used to discriminate our women. They were not allowed to lead; leadership was not a woman’s thing; they thought it was the man’s role. They were not allowed to make choices with regard to their career path and sexual and reproductive health right. They were not allowed to go to school and be educated, and securing decent jobs, they thought women’s role was in the kitchen whilst the men were celebrated.
Because of all these discriminations and inequalities meted on them, pressure groups and women advocacy organizations started to arise, advocating for gender equality.
Therefore, if more attention and focus is penetrated on women, it should not be a surprise because they want to take back what belongs to them; Their space to equality.
The 30% quota they’ve been seeking for many years is finally coming to reality. We’re hoping that by 2030, they would’ve reached the 50/50% quota as that is the essence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG5).
#sdg2030 #UNyouth #GenderEquality