Reel in gender equality for a progressive environment

Reel in gender equality for a progressive environment
It is not about uplifting women to a point where they can run the world and dominate men, but rather, to equally compete without bringing discrimination to the dinner table.

It is time we stay together, keep our differences aside, and #BalanceforBetter

By Ayisha Alka

Published: Sun 10 Mar 2019, 10:09 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Mar 2019, 12:14 PM

here was a time when women were condemned for speaking in a raised tone, even if it were just to catch the attention of someone afar. Struggles of women date back to the times before the Civil War broke out; these strong women set off on a long-term movement to break stereotypes and the association of women to a "submissive homemaker". From fighting for voting rights to protesting domestic violence and abuse, women have gone through a long way with determination, strong will and effort.

Fast forward to 2019, women are doing much better; there is a huge rise of women in leadership positions in the politics field. Their right to education were attained and achieved in many countries, while other inspirational figures, such as Malala Yousafzai, put their lives at risk to strengthen the will of girls wanting to study and prosper as future leaders.

Although gender equality is stemming at its highest peak, there still are untold stories of women in undeveloped, primitive and rural societies, who continue to struggle within the confinement of their homes. Child marriage is still prevalent in countries like India and other parts of the world. And with this, successful women who have built their lives from broken pieces are not yet satisfied, as there are women still under the shadows, not given the chance to shine when they have full potential. But there is a chance to win, and if it isn't those struggling that can battle through it, the women that have conquered battles will open doors to their freedom.

International Women's Day first came into existence in 1909 on March 8, when women protested against unfair working conditions. According to United Nations (UN), a historic roadmap was signed by 189 governments in 1995, where women around the world could make their own choices for education, employment and living in safe societies, free from discrimination. On this day, women are recognised for their efforts and achievements, regardless of ethnicity, race, colour, and other divisions.

The theme of this campaign for 2019 is #BalanceforBetter, and conveys what we need to create a gender-balanced world, free from sexism and misogyny. If you are a woman, chances are you have received sexist remarks and have been told what to do and what not to do, whether it be household chores or men dominating you at a work environment. Being a year-long activity, collective actions will be taken to maintain a balanced, gender neutral world.

A day is not enough to celebrate the difficult journey of brave women who have created history. If you're typing on your computers in your office desks or ordering people around, high chances are that you are simply luckier than most women in the past, for those are the women that worked for the future ambitious female leaders.

Speaking about men, are you reading this article?
Because if yes, maybe, just maybe, you could make a change. Women can flourish as wonderful, brave individuals, but the world can be a better place if both genders supported each other.
Back in 2016, Kriti Sanon, one of the most adored Bollywood stars, went onto twitter and tweeted: "I absolutely love being a woman and I celebrate that every single day! PS: When is Men's Day". Sorry men, although we women have gone through a lot, it is assured that you have gone through issues too.

As the theme represents gender balance, women are to be appreciated for their achievements and efforts, alongside men, whose suffering go unnoticed. In contrast to women being called "weak" and "overly sensitive", men are expected to be the primary earning member of the family, seen always as physically strong and not vulnerable to anything. He is not supposed to cry during harsh situations because that is not "manly enough". If you've heard of the old, not-so-nice saying that goes: "Real men don't cry", you know you're not so close to gender equality anytime soon. It is the responsibility of both women and men to destroy discrimination as a team, instead of destroying each other.

It is not about uplifting women to a point where they can run the world and dominate men, but rather, men and women should be able to equally compete without bringing discrimination to the dinner table, because that is not so appetising.

Let us treat each other as humans, rather than categorising someone as a man or a woman. Let us #BalanceforBetter.

- Ayisha Alka is an Editorial Intern at Khaleej Times, studying at Middlesex University, Dubai. She is passionate about discovering stories and happenings around the world.

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