On March 8, women across world commemorated the International Women’s Day (IWD). With a strong call to action dubbed “Choose to Challenge”, physical occasions and virtual forums were organised to celebrate women.
Nevertheless, the question as to how exactly more women choose to challenge and overcome the many barriers they face still lingers.
With data from the United Nations indicating that it may take more than 130 years to attain gender equality aspirations as envisioned, more effort is required to maintain the current strides and also go beyond, more so in the workplaces.
To achieve this, below are some of the ways through which more women can join the movement towards attaining a more equal world for all.
1. Establishing women empowerment initiatives
In today’s organisations, initiatives or programs to support women empowerment are increasingly becoming the norm, but this does not mean we stop here. More organisations need to have such programs and women encouraged join these programs to support each other and also learn more about gender equality and matters related to women empowerment.
A case in point is the Pink Energy Initiative which was established at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) by the Managing Director & CEO, Mrs. Rebecca Miano.
Launched in November 2016, the initiative has gone a long way in creating change and enhancing the potential of women in the company. It is anchored on three pillars: Personal development and empowerment; creating a conducive work environment and creating gender awareness. It has enabled women at KenGen to make remarkable progress on professionalism, career growth, health and wellness, financial management, parenting and mentorship.
2. Strengthening sisterhood ties
There is a misconception that women rarely support each other. But the truth is, women can support each other and also work towards achieving gender equality while advancing empowerment. Women must embrace support for each, and turn the same into a norm.
While support may vary from one person to the other, the common support comes in the form of celebrating ones success, showing fellow women how to conduct tasks they are not good at, understanding each other and pushing each other to greater heights.
This creates an environment where women’s voices are heard and efforts towards reforms in both policies and rights supported.
3. Putting men at the centre of choosing to challenge
There is no doubt that in order for the world to achieve gender equality, men must be part of the agenda. In the past, we have seen movements such as He For She take the centre stage. This goes to demonstrate that men should be part of the initiatives by being the driving force in the quest towards reaching the gender equality aspirations.
This way, there will be no conflict of interest whereby it becomes like a fight between the two genders. In fact, with this approach, it becomes easier to create awareness and also implement policies in support of gender equity.
4. Be Ready to conquer higher limits
Ever heard of the phase “The time is now”. Indeed, there are no limits to the heights women should reach in the current world. Women can attain what they want to achieve by building confidence and daring to overcome barriers. As witnessed in many cases over the years, women tend to fear applying for jobs in higher positions. Some have settled for what is offered by avoiding roles considered to be dominated by the male gender.
According to data from Pew Research conducted in 2018, only 26 women were in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies, making up 5.2% of the female population.
This trends calls for women to conquer new limits and pursue higher positions regardless of fear, tensions or threats. This way, women will be ready to take up challenging positions and careers while keeping in mind that there is no career that is set for certain gender.
5. Walk the talk
Data from the United Nations Sixty –fifth Commission on the status of Women in 2021 shows that despite women’s increased engagement in public life, achieving equality is far behind. It is worth noting that across many boards, women remain significantly underrepresented, in the process playing limited roles in decision making. Despite the challenges, it is important that women become pioneers of walking the talk on gender equality.
In order to close on the many gaps, action will have to speak louder than words.
Going forward, there is more needed beyond raising the hand and declaring that we women are choosing to challenge.
All in all, gender equality is a journey and not a destination. Our actions towards handling the matter will determine how the future will look like and this is where we should now focus on. By showing women how to challenge the barriers and conquer new limits, we shall be setting a record towards a more equal and sustainable society in the future.