The good: there is so much passion about this topic.
The bad: there is so much prejudice and misapprehension about it.
The ugly: when the bigots and the zealots on both sides of the barricade start claiming something, usually on an entitled, virulent tone that allows for no retort, there is no room left for real dialogue.
The other day I found an interesting article on equal pay, specifically on how Icelandic Women proceeded about achieving it: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/women-in-iceland-have-walked-out-of-work-to-dispute-the-gender-pay-gap. I liked the article, it was based on facts and was inspiring. It was a story about women striving to be on equal footing with men, to be respected, valued, and paid the same way as their male counterparts. However, inspiring as it was, the article garnered a lot of disparaging comments; some were downright hateful. Below you’ll find just the tip of the iceberg:
I am not sure what effect these comments have on you, but they left me shocked, saddened, and a tad frightened. Still, when I finally pulled myself out of that transfixed state of awe mixed with disbelief and disgust that these comments put me in, I started asking myself why do people have such negative reactions to this topic.
Prejudice and traditional mindset are, in my opinion, the answer. I think of Albert Einstein’s words “it is harder to crack prejudice than an atom” – they encapsulate best the incapacity of human beings to see beyond their preconceived ideas.
As it is, the women empowerment movement is still new in the western world, not to speak about other parts of the world where unfortunately it does not really count. Compared to the history of mankind, women movements are very recent; they first appeared during the late 19th century. These are some 150 years of fight for women’s rights – be it the right to vote, or to have an education, or to choose one’s husband – compared to 10.000 years of mostly patriarchal society, where men’s way of thinking and of doing things was paramount and unassailable. That is why, changing the traditional mindset, the patriarchal one, is crucial. A true rapport, on equal footing, can be built only when both sides are willing to put themselves into question, when being right is less important than being heard, when the power of your own convictions grows faint in the face of true dialogue.
While it is true that a lot has been achieved, the work is not complete, not by far. According to UN Women, “women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.” The work will be complete only when we live in a world where women have the same freedom and opportunities as men, when their voices are going to be heard as loud and clear as men’s.
Nevertheless, changing the traditional mindset needs time, and new role models. A first step would be fully understanding that the social, economic, or cultural benefits brought by empowering women far outweigh whatever reluctancy might still lurk in the minds and reasoning of its opponents. From the facts and figures of UN WOMEN, Albright Foundation, various women networks, to inspiration from business women like Sheryl Sandberg and poets and artists like Amanda Lovelace or Bill Petrocelli, there is so much food for thought about this topic; you will find the links below.
Truth be told, most of us could do more, on a daily basis, to empower women. A few ideas, off the top of my head: mentoring women, promoting the work and the voices of women, or recommending more women for senior jobs.
As for my part, I see myself mentoring young professionals, teaching and supporting women to be more confident, to dare more often stepping into higher position. My Study Tours for Women Empowerment 2019 will focus on Leadership and Decision Making, Communication and Work-Life Balance. I would be very happy to work with you.
I am very interested to know what are your topics of interest for 2019. Just drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
UN Women: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-figures
AllBright Foundation: http://www.allbright.se/english/
Global Digital Women: https://global-digital-women.com/en/
Global Woman Club: https://globalwomanclub.com/
Amanda Lovelace: http://amandalovelace.com/
Bill Petrocelli: https://billpetrocelli.com/circle-of-thirteen/,https://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-petrocelli/five-ways-men-benefit-fro_b_5223889.html
Sheryl Sandberg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_In
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