According to current gender equality research, only eight countries worldwide offer equal economic opportunities for women and men. Some may find that surprising, especially considering the progress we’ve made over the last century.
Unfortunately, the issue is more complex than changing a few laws. We must change deeply ingrained mindsets, and that takes time. Fortunately, there’s a lot that we can do today to aid the process.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the micro-steps that each of us can take to end gender inequality.
It’s Not an Us and Them Situation
The subject is an emotive one. Women have historically been on the losing side of the equation. This situation has caused some resentment. It’s important not to let the resentment fester and to remember that we’re all in this together.
If men and women don’t work together, no change is possible. It’s also worth noting that gender inequality doesn’t only apply to women. Any stereotyping of one gender counts. Attitudes like, “Big boys don’t cry,” are also damaging.
The first step is to work together toward a more equitable solution instead of insisting that one side is always wrong.
Stop the Stereotyping
Dressing boys in blue and girls in pink is a minor form of stereotyping. Assigning chores based on “boy’s work” and “girl’s work” is more damaging. The typical stereotype is that girls are emotional and better at nurturing, while boys have more drive to succeed at any cost.
There are plenty of examples of these roles being reversed in the real world. We must start with our children to break these stereotypes. When assigning chores or even parenting roles, do so equally. Be careful of the gender messages that you unwittingly transmit to your children.
Challenge the Behaviour You Want to Change
Bad behavior often continues because no one challenges it. Sometimes the perpetrators don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong. It may be something as simple as a stupid blonde joke. If it makes you uncomfortable, don’t stay silent to be polite.
You don’t have to shout the other person down. Simply explain to them how what they said made you feel. If you’re in a group of people and see someone saying or doing something questionable, adopt the same approach.
Your goal is to raise awareness and get the person thinking. Telling them they’re wrong will put them on the defensive. A gentler approach is more likely to lead to a real discussion that might get them to think differently.
Listen and Learn
There are two sides to everything. Learning more about the way each of us thinks leads to better understanding.
A feminist might feel insulted if a man opens a car door for her. She may assume he does it because he feels she’s weaker than him. The reality might be different. Perhaps he feels it’s a sign of respect or good manners.
Assumptions create barriers between people. Speak to the person instead. Find out why they act in the way that they do. You might find the answers interesting. Who knows, you might even change your stance a little.
Be Fair in Your Actions
Fairness is a two-way street. Both sexes deserve equal opportunities. You can’t promote one sex to the disadvantage of the other. It wasn’t right that the deck wasn’t stacked equally in the past. Swapping things the other way won’t change that. It’ll only breed resentment in the new generation.
We need to build a fair and equitable society. To do so, it’s time to move past recriminations and toward better understanding. Start the dialogue today.