Photo courtesy: IWD website.
The 2022 Women’s Day Campaign theme; “Gender Equality for a Sustainable tomorrow” - #BreakingTheBias, is fascinating because it begs the question; what would a world without bias look like?
When we speak on Gender equality, it is easy to quickly frame it as women issues but in actual fact what we really mean is a world in which our differences are celebrated and respected without bias, discrimination or stereotyping among all genders. It is a world in which everyone despite their gender, race, religion or history etc. Is given equal opportunities and a level playing field and not forced into a box of who they should be!
But then again it is easy to understand why when we speak on gender equality, there is a rush to term it wholly as women issues, because it is after all girls that are more than often the ones facing the most discrimination in all parts of the world. The truth is society favors boys over girls making it extremely hard to flourish and reach one’s utmost potential as a girl.
However, this women’s day, I would like to take a different angle to the fight and address the women on the breaking the bias that rages amongst ourselves.
Every time we speak on the need for gender equality; we mostly address the menfolk, demanding that they accord us the respect and opportunities we deserve. That they rise up and stand with us in dealing with the old age traditions of silencing and boxing in girls.
But In every situation, be it personal or general, it is of utmost importance to carry out an introspection exercise. In line with this, today I implore that while we call out for a break in bias, it is necessary that we address the issue that for the patriarchy to thrive, it requires the participation of gatekeepers and this can be women in many cases.
We continue to pass on old age traditions that cause us harm from generation to generation during marital and puberty teachings, we are usually in the front row of protecting perpetrators of crimes against women as well as pulling down fellow women rising through the ranks by insinuating that the only way she could be doing so is by sleeping with influential men and the minute she stumbles, we are the first to mock her instead of being a strong support to help pull her back up. We body shame, defining beauty in terms of colorism and being picture perfect.
We nurture our girls from a young age to be responsible adults while we teach our boys toxic masculinity.
To give a practical local example; recently in the Eastern province of Zambia, a woman was raped in broad daylight with the public cheering on and the loudest voices were that of women, when a girl comes forward as a victim of rape, most of the voices victim shaming are women. We focus on teaching our girls on how to dress and behave as means of protecting themselves against being victims but yet do not teach our sons on respect. We nurture our girls from a young age to be responsible adults while we teach our boys toxic masculinity. If a girl is independent financially then she is slut shamed and seen as rebellious; built by a system where a girl can only depend on a man.
We call on men to respect us but are not united in the fight and it is through these loopholes that inequality slips through. We demand for respect and opportunities that we rarely share among ourselves.
Breaking the bias needs to start from within ourselves.
This women’s day one common voice I heard repeated amongst men is that the problem does not mainly lay in men but women not supporting each other. One man actually laughed at how they have started coming around and getting more involved in household chores, child care taking etc. but yet when women see men doing that in a home, they start to speak ill and either mock that the man has either been bewitched or the woman of the house lacks respect for the man.
Now, please do not get me wrong, I am not saying all women fall under this category and neither am I saying that all men are in the fight against inequality. What I am speaking on is the importance that all women or at least the majority of us need to come together and be united in the fight. We need to SPEAK and ACT in one voice. Breaking the bias needs to start from within ourselves.
We are so few walking through the door and getting seats at the decision-making tables and if we do not support each other, no one else is going to, no one else is coming to save us.
This year our stance to #breakingthebias is a call to our fellow women to be: Our Sisters keeper.
Celebrate your womanhood. Celebrate other women.
Kabuku C Kabwela is an embodiment of multiple skills, talents, and interests that seamlessly merge to create her life, work, and career. She is a Zambian-based trained communication and PR specialist with over 2 years working experience in marketing and Communications.
Kabuku’s skills include the ability to string words together in the art of creative direction and storytelling, data entry, ability to multi-task and prioritize projects, content creation and copywriting, basic graphic designing, photography as well as social media management to mention but a few.
Her Hobbies include; crafting, traveling, thrilling adventure, writing, reading, listening to music and watching series and movies.