Will generation x make a difference in the world’s gender agenda?
By Emma Seline Akinyi Okello
| March 8th 2020
Today, women across the globe are celebrating International Women’s Day where their point of convergence is to put gender on the agenda of world affairs. Whether there is something to celebrate in this aspect will depend on who you ask. This is because several strides towards realising gender equality have been made and significant milestones achieved in various sectors of the world’s economy while in some sectors, more is yet to be realised.
This year’s theme “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women's Rights,” seems to put the youth and millennials at the center of focus in the quest to establish gender equality in today’s world. This theme sets the stage for women to claim stake in all sectors of the economy at their tender age given that the world has become a global village thanks to rapid technological advancements. Targeting the youth could not have come at a better time to deconstruct the myth that some certain sectors of the economy are a preserve for women while others are domiciled for men.
The maritime sector for instance, that has been seen as a preserve for men, has continued to attract women at the peak echelons in various organizations. Again, the question of how much has been achieved emerges at a time when the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is grappling with the absence of images showing women in action when it comes to maritime issues.
As part of celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, the world maritime body has launched a photo search to build its bank of images of women in maritime. IMO has been at the forefront in promoting gender diversity in the maritime sector through its various women empowerment programmes that has been running for more than three decades.
The programmes are meant to support the participation of women in the sector, under the slogan: "Training-Visibility-Recognition", which has gone a long way in supporting access to training and employment opportunities for women in the maritime sector.
Assuming that such initiatives are being replicated in many other sectors across the world then tremendous results should be visible by now.
The United Nations has also made progressive significant contributions towards ensuring gender equality through its multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality.
It is for this reason that women will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. With all these initiatives, the current generation of women and girls need access to information that will make them make real-life choices to compete with men.
The current Competency-Based Curriculum will play a pivotal role to inculcate the issues of gender equality at a tender age, setting the stage ready for young girls to face the challenge of equally competing with men towards building the economy. Gone are the days when pictures of nurses were those of women while pictures of engineers are mostly of men.
The media, which for long has been branded the biggest enemy women have in leadership, too have a role to play to ensure that stories of successful women are not stereotyped. When telling such stories, the media should desist in portraying the achievers as extraordinary beings who have managed to excel in areas that they were never meant for. Instead, such stories should demonstrate that indeed the achievers like their male counterparts have equal opportunities in all fronts. The stereotyping already places the girl child a few strides behind the boychild in the race towards success in most careers. Women too and especially in this generation of millennials should strive to set agenda for the media by demonstrating their abilities alongside those of men.
First, this generation of women needs to shed off the tag that they are their enemies to lift each other as they compete for opportunities and resources. The millennial should positively utilise social media advancement in their generation to position themselves as equal competitors to men when it comes to leadership and growing the economy. It reminds me of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s remarks recently that women should use their big population to elect one of their own in higher political positions.
In the maritime sector, established women should take it upon themselves to mentor young girls right from the time they are in a position to choose their career to the time they achieve their dreams. Organizations such as the Association of Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA) should be empowered to penetrate young girls’ clubs such as the girl guides and scout’s movement to help propel them to equal platforms with men. When all is said and done, women should make individual initiatives while taking advantage of the already ongoing initiatives by organizations such as the UN and IMO to better position themselves and excel in their dream careers.
The writer is a maritime expert and consultant
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