A male’s perspective (Dialogue among peace messengers)
By Bill Ivans Gbafore
In the words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “Gender equity is more than a goal itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”
Given the importance of the need to achieve a gender balanced world, it is necessary that we loud the call and pledge our full commitment in deeds, thoughts or actions towards securing a society that will grant equal representation to every boy or girl at all levels of engagement and in various decision making processes.
The world can no longer ignore the necessity of inclusivity and the need to ensure gender parity in all interventions geared towards global development. Standing on the UNSCR 1325 which calls for women involvement in peace & security and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 that specifically spelt out bold actions on Gender Equity, we must continue to guarantee through our efforts that the aforementioned declarations move beyond conference tables, speeches and panel discussions and reflect in the lives of young girls and boys around us daily.
Sustainable actions that will leverage equal representation in terms of access to quality education, good health care and social wellbeing, economic security and opportunities for advancement must be intentionally driven from grassroots initiatives through community actions and national levels by every one of us and for every child, be it boy or girl. Borrowing from Christine Tsai, “The change I want to see is a startup environment where everyone, regardless of gender and background, feels welcome and safe; where sexual harassment or discrimination will not impede great talent from producing great impact”.
It is safe to say that we cannot talk of the need for equal representation without identifying the high stakes young men hold in driving this noble cause. It is high time programs for women empowerment absorbs both genders instead of primarily women, for it will assist greatly in encouraging men to accept generally and respect every human without discrimination of sex or violation of inalienable human rights as we strive to build decent societies.
The role of family beliefs, religious doctrines, cultural and traditional norms and values and societal opinions in promoting equal representation for young girls cannot be overemphasized as it is important now than ever before. We must be willing to break barriers for people who are first and foremost humans, before being labeled as females.
African culture should transcend wooden images of women with mortal, pistil, and babies on their backs; we cannot afford perpetually confining our mothers and sisters to a life of household management through our arts and acts. We must allow them to dream without limits, we must allow their ambitions rise beyond the ceilings and to the skies and further create safe spaces where they can thrive and achieve their potentials. This should cut across discrimination at job sites, schools or other public places.
As advocates for equal representation, it’s key that we dedicate our energy, skills and resources to the development of young girls that they can be fully prepared, encouraged and willing to compete for opportunities at merit standards and not solely on gender base. The world depends on our efforts and this is a just cause that we must be willing to live for.