USA, Ghana, India, Luxembourg Equality Culture
Podcast 3 by Jillian Primicias via UN Online Volunteers
Article by Steffica Warwick, SAFIGI Editor
This podcast discussed the Ghanaian Fente tribe; queen mothers for women empowerment and mixing modernity with traditional systems; India- gender equity, female/ male/ third gender discrimination, patriarchal societies and matrilineal society, problems with rape, dowry, and changing society; Luxembourg- rape, education to close financial disparity, paid maternity leave, wage gap.
LISTEN IN: POSITIVE CULTURAL ASPECTS
LISTEN IN: NEGATIVE CULTURAL ASPECTS
EQUALITY CULTURE PERSPECTIVES FROM GHANA, INDIA, LUXEMBOURG
Patriarchy embedded in the culture
It is very hard to overcome traditions established over many years. For example in Ghana, men are still seen as the stronger sex. In a traditional home, the females take care of the children and it is rare to find men doing traditionally female jobs. In India, men are taught to be the ones in power. This includes power over female sexuality, which can lead to rape.
Women and the patriarchy
Women also buy into these perceptions, and may not even apply to jobs as they don’t believe they have the skills. This leads to questions of equity rather than equality. Women also have a responsibility not to reinforce beliefs about gender norms, even as simple as ‘pink is for girls, blue is for boys’, for the benefit of men’s growth and expression as well as women’s.
Men and the patriarchy
There are men’s rights movements emerging which reveal that men are also not happy with this gender imbalance as it negatively puts pressure on them to act in a certain way. The #MeToo movement has been positive for giving women a voice, but in some cases it has taken the voice away from men. Men need to ensure that their voices are equally heard in creating a new and equal culture.
The impact of patriarchal beliefs on health and safety
In India, sometimes police do not take rape cases seriously as they buy into patriarchal beliefs of rape being a woman’s fault if she dresses a certain way. Stigmas around mental health mean that victims also do not get the support they need if they are suffering from depression from causes leading from gender equality. If the cultural mindset is not changed, no matter how many rules and laws you make, nothing will change.
Policy making for change
There are many cases where the law does not create an equal gender balance. For example in Algeria, women need a man’s consent for many business transactions, and in the United States, there is no paid maternity leave. We cannot expect to change human minds if the law still allows for gender inequality. In some ways, if the law starts, people’s minds will follow.
What role do men play in policy making?
Policy makers can and should incentivise men to advocate for gender equality. There is a Gender and Development Initiative for Africa being advocated for in Ghana, which is an award system for men who push for more gender equality in the workplace. This opens up more possibilities for how men can be involved in gender equality.
What role do women play in policy making?
Women are essential for policy making. The men cannot make decisions for women as they do not understand female problems and cannot create solutions for females. So there needs to be more women in politics and parliament.
How can NGOs and civic actors help?
Local NGOs have been linking up with the United Nations to reduce gender based discrimination in the workplace in India and provide support for rape cases. They have helped to classify transgender as a third gender and make known that homosexuality is not a crime. But it will take time for people to come to terms with the new legislation.
Education is improving for girls and women in…
In India, the government is making sure that every girl child is educated, and this is making a big difference. Previously, women have been shy to talk about menstruation, but in the cities and some villages, girls are speaking up more.
In Luxembourg, every student is given a certain amount of money for free to go study and can get loans. Education helps to reduce domestic violence in the home, as well as to reduce the gender wage gap.
In Ghana, females are gaining their voices more. There has been an increase in the number of Queen Mothers asking to be involved in decision making process. They are pushing for more girls education and they bring women together. In some regions of Ghana, the mother traditionally has to pay for the sins of their family, but the Queen Mothers have come together to abolish this practice, mixing modernity with a traditional system.
In summary, patriarchal beliefs are embedded in cultures around the world which put the health and safety of men and women at risk, as well as reinforcing an oppressive culture. Both men and women need to join the conversation at a political and community-led level to create change, and ensure the next generation is educated to take forth the mantel.
ABOUT EQUALITY CULTURE
Equality Culture is a podcast by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (Safety First for Girls). The discussions on the intersection between Culture and Gender Equality build on SAFIGIs goal for SDG 5 - gender equality and equity, and SDG 11- safer cities. Safety of girls begins with a safe space to talk about what is working in our culture and what needs to be improved.
Culture and various traditions play an integral part of a people who share common everyday experiences. It is a unifying factor which gives each group an identity and sense of belonging detailing the rich history of where people originated from. Many fight and die to preserve their culture and traditions. With globalization, environmental changes and development consistently spreading globally, it has become apparent that some traditional practices promote equal thriving of human beings while others pose a threat to equality and the upholding of human rights.
The #EqualityCulture discussions from across the globe will challenge us to think critically about equality from views of different cultures, thereby creating a first step to a more equal and safer world while embracing our unique values.
This project also aims at bringing volunteers from across the globe to experience a cultural exchange and identify positive traditions as well as speak with one voice supporting the empowerment of females regardless of where you live or what you look like.