“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation.” – Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey
Monday 8th March marks International Women’s Day 2021 with this year’s theme named Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world. Gender equality has come a long way since fighting for the right for women to have the right to vote but a century later we still have some work to do in a global context. A step in the right direction, we’re seeing women excel in all levels and industries, demonstrating to the world that to deny women equal rights is not just denying the female population their right to fulfil their potential: to deny equality would also have a negative effect on any organisation or role who chooses to allow gender to restrict their options for recruitment and inadvertently missing out on a huge pool of talent.
The fact that Gender Equality was named as a Global Goal in 2015 demonstrated that this challenge continues. Our partners PEAS (Promoting Equality in African School) are part of the solution in Uganda and Zambia, encouraging girls to remain in education and working for an equal female to male ratio in their schools, where previously girls would not be the priority to receive a secondary education. This is significant in enabling females to secure better careers and subsequently earn a higher income but alongside this is educating families and communities about the importance of this, so that young girls are given the chances and grow up with the vision and belief of uncapped possibilities.
Whilst the degree of inequality undoubtedly varies from region to region, any disparity is relevant in preventing equality from being achieved. As such, until this becomes the norm, we want to celebrate those women who continue to raise expectations, who prove what is possible and inspire women to continue to fight for more seats at the table. The women who have carried us through the pandemic, the nurses, doctors and other healthcare and medical professionals, the teachers, emergency services staff, selfless volunteers right through to government leaders.
Covid-19 has been a stark reminder that we are all as vulnerable as each other when it refused to discriminate with its attack on the population, so let us take that same ‘level playing field’ view by reviewing the language we use and the perceptions we have to work towards a more equal future. Our only way through and out of the pandemic has, and continues to be, determined by our ability to work together, locally, nationally and globally so let’s work to ensure that continues.
Women may have had to start the conversation, but society should continue to listen – for everyone's benefit.