Complete elimination of systematic gender discrimination needs the active involvement of people of all genders. Gender discrimination is not ONLY as women’s problem, it’s a developmental problem. Like other Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, gender equality is an issue of human rights and humanity. As we acknowledge the fact that gender equality is not women’s issues, we should encourage men to work as allies to achieve gender parity. For that purpose, we’ve tried to simply the issue of gender equality for men and boys in this post. And we hope this will serve as a guide for men and boy to fight against gender discrimination.
Men and boys should work as allies with women
I urge all men and boys to please wake up and take a step forward, however small it may be, to end gender discrimination from your personal life and community. Remember, you too have a huge responsibility to ensure that your daughters, sisters, and mothers live in a safer and equal society. Please ensure that your loved ones are not victims of any harmful social practice of the patriarchal society.
But I also accept the fact that fighting against gender discrimination could be quite challenging for men and boys, depending on one’s social and cultural background. I have tried to outline below a step by step guide for men and boys to fight against gender discrimination and to be a change agent in promoting women empowerment.
1. Understand the issue
Spend some time in reading and understanding gender based issues in the global as well as your local context. Do your own research to be aware about the pressing concerns over gender inequality and how it can affect the growth and economic development of societies.
Achieving Gender Equality by 2030 is one of theSustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.You can read about many valuable resources, facts, programs and campaignsundertaken by the UN and its different agencies.
Along with knowing the gender equality issues on the global context, you can read or refer to some very useful books to understand why women’s rights of equality are so important and how to tackle some issues as a man or boy-
2. Look around yourself
Look around yourself and your surroundings to find out signs of gender-based differences and discrimination. Do you and your partner, your mother and father, brother and sister, son and daughter enjoy the same rights, privileges, opportunities in their every day lives towards pursuing their career goals, education, expressing their social and political views or leading their lives the way they want? If not, do you think their ‘gender’ has a role to play in it?
Here are a list of self-reflection exercise on the concept of gender roles and norms.
In your culture or society-
- How boys and girls expected to behave?
- How boys and girls expected to express their emotions?
- What is not allowed for men and woman?
- What qualities are valued in men and women?
- Are both men and women have similar rights and freedom?
- Do men and women have equal access to assets, education and power?
3. Challenge your own thoughts
There are many social and cultural customs which oppress women and violet their rights. They may exist in your life for years but you may not even be ready to accept that they are harmful. Challenge your own thoughts and unconscious biases. Success in eliminating gender inequality lies to a great extent in accepting the fact that it exists in each of our lives, in each and every family and household, sometimes in a rather subtle way.
4. Identify the areas you want to bring changes
You might or might not have an active role in promoting gender discrimination. But you would most likely have some passive involvement in that. Ask yourself where you could be most effective in bringing changes. What you can and can not do to eliminate these gender-based biases which are currently existing in your life or in the lives of people around you.
5. Set up a personal goal and support system
Define your short and long-term goals. Decide the causes which you strongly support and the changes which you want to bring. Once you know that, outline a plan about how you can achieve your goals. You can start with some small goals in your personal life or in your family. Furthermore, as a long-term goal, you can think of educating community members about gender discrimination, or being an advocate for gender equality and women empowerment.
Use internet to access and communicate with people and groups who are working in this field. HeForShe is United Nation’s Online Global Solidarity Movement for men to stand in solidarity with women to create a bold, visible and united force for gender equality. They help and support men to take tangible actions.
Men, Boys and Gender Equality is building an openly accessible basis of evidence and lessons for working with boys and men to promote gender equality, by gathering, inter-relating, analyzing and strategically disseminating evidence and lessons in targeted and accessible formats for improved learning, policy and practice. They have excellent evidence, case studies, tools and guidance for men fighting for women’s rights and equality.
6. Get started
The right time to start is NOW. Don’t sit and wait with the hope of the perfect opportunities to come your way. You can start with small goals like setting aside money for your daughter’s higher education or encouraging your wife to be economically independent. Try to ensure the rights and equality of women in your family first. You can also volunteer for organizations or community working for women’s rights. You can also create your own campaign in your community.
7. Consider stepping out of your comfort zone
It may be quite uncomfortable for you to bringing changes in your own life at the beginning. For instance, if you are a parent who’ve always taught your daughter to wear a certain type of dresses, or to behave in a certain way to ensure her safety, but never thought of educating your son to treat women with respect, you might find it extremely awkward and uncomfortable at the beginning to talk to your son about these issues. It is very pivotal to step out of your comfort zone when are a change maker.
8. Learn to face obstacles and disappointments
There will be a lots of obstacles and backlashes from people around you. Remember, all changes face a lot of resistance at the beginning by the society. You may feel, your efforts are not taking you anywhere. please stay strong in front of criticism, resistance or opposition. You may need to remind yourself very often about the higher purpose you are working for. It’s also important for you to have the access of other people who are working in the same field and motivate and support you.
9. Be a Role Model
Try to Influence everybody around you. Share your story. Set examples, be a role model. Present yourself in your home, school, workplace or community as an advocate of gender equality. This will help you to create your own identity as a change maker. You may not be able change everything, but can influence many people to think out of the box and to take actions. Hope this guide for men to fight against gender discrimination was helpful to you!
You may also like to read You Too and Eliminate Gender Discrimination by Building Self Awareness aimed to encourage and support men and boys to fight for a gender equal world.