Gender Equality Is A Conversation We All Need To Be Part Of
This post was originally published on HuffPost Canada
By: Maryam Rehman | Toronto, Canada
What is gender equality? It's the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender. Traditionally, this term also corresponds with other not as easily accepted terms, such as feminism.
Now, I'm a feminist, and I thought it was a good thing until recently. I realized that people consider it to be a negative term. By definition, it's the doctrine advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men. Although I don't believe the term should be associated with negativity, if you still do not like the word, as said by Emma Watson, "It is not the word that's important, but it is the idea and the ambition behind it."
The idea calls for us to work together and create a world where women and men are treated equally. When I first began researching this topic, I was shocked to discover that we still don't have equal pay for men and women. It wasn't ignorance behind my incorrect understanding, it was the fact that I thought that in this decade, we had come past that challenge at the very least. But that's not the case, so we have to look at this information and move forward. Here's how.
The fifth Sustainable Development Goal is gender quality, the aim being to"achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls."
Gender equality comes into play in every stage of our lives -- from the day a child is born, to school and the workplace. You need to begin advocating in your own home, starting from the way you treat your family members, and then people in your workplace or school, etc.
As said by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, "We're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave... To truly innovate, we cannot leave behind half of our population... I need each of you to tell every young women you know to be comfortable with imperfection."
If we begin with teaching girls to take risks, and if we adopt these practices ourselves, we'll come closer to achieving this goal.
I'd like to highlight three initiatives that I believe are on the perfect path of helping everyone reach this sustainable development goal.
Girls Who Code
Breaking the barriers surrounding what girls can do is just the beginning, Girls Who Code is opening doors and creating opportunities for high school girls like no other has done to date.
Their mission statement: "We are a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields."
Breaking the barriers and opening opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields by teaching them to code will help us take the next step in our innovative development moving forward.
Truly one of the most unique and impactful campaigns of the United Nations, HeForShe really has and continues to open up the conversation about gender equality by involving both genders.
Their mission statement: "The world is at a turning point. People everywhere understand and support the idea of gender equality. They know it's not just a women's issue, it's a human rights issue. And when these powerful voices are heard, they will change the world. The time for that change is now. HeForShe is inviting people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality. And it starts by taking action right now to create a gender equal world."
Ultimately, HeForShe, is the perfect example of how men are getting the chance to be involved in the conversation, too, because they matter in overcoming this challenge. Gender equality is moving towards becoming a topic that everyone is involved in and is working together to solve.
Lean In.org and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
The ultimate guide to breaking the gender inequality barriers surrounding you and the changes you can make personally to helping achieve gender equality. Gender equality isn't something someone else will give to you, it's about taking risks and willing to make effective decisions for yourself, too.
Following the release of the book, an organization under the same name was inaugurated to help women achieve their goals. Their mission statement: "The book Lean In is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can't do to what we can do. LeanIn.org is the next chapter. We are committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals. If we talk openly about the challenges women face and work together, we can change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone."
Gender equality is a very complex issue. It will take time, effort and cooperation to solve. Social media is a wonderful platform to raise awareness and bring change for the causes we care about. We can use that platform to get everyone in on the conversation about gender equality, too.
If we, personally change the smallest of habits that challenge gender inequality, we will break the barriers and achieve gender equality.
My purpose was to bring your attention to causes that are having an impact and to do my part in raising my concern for this issue. You need to be a part of the conversation, too. Whether you choose Lean In, teach girls to be brave, or become HeForShe, you can make a difference and help come one step closer to achieving gender equality. Why not start right now?