“All Things Being Equal”
As the Executive Director of “Courage in Action” a charity that supports women, Cindy Stradling is passionate about creating conditions where women thrive. In celebration of International Women’s Day 2022 she shared her thoughts on how we can help to create gender equal world.
The IWD 2022 campaign theme: #BreakTheBias focused on gender equality. This is when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities.
Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability
Women and Gender Equality Canada works to advance equality with respect to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression through the inclusion of people of all genders, including women, in Canada’s economic, social, and political life.
What does it mean for women to have true equality?
Fair, livable wages, affordable housing and childcare
Freedom from violence, bias, stereotypes, and discrimination - conditions where everyone can thrive
Everyone is affected by gender inequality - women, men, trans and gender diverse people, children and families. It impacts people of all ages and backgrounds.
Societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier.
It would mean that all women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people get the full rights, support, and respect they deserve.
Where our differences are valued and celebrated, in a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Three things we can do to start to make change:
1. Call out sexism and harassment
- From catcalling to mansplaining to inappropriate sexual jokes, women are faced with all kinds of sexist and disrespectful behaviours in public and private places on a daily basis.
- You can be an active bystander by disrupting the status quo and challenging your peers. Start by calling out any inappropriate behaviour in a safe, respectful manner. Challenge any stereotypical notions of gender, such as “a woman should know her place” and “stop getting emotional”, through open dialogue. When it comes to engaging in conversation, learn the facts, so that the next time someone makes statements like the “wage gap is a myth!”, you can eloquently squash that misinformation in its tracks.
- If you witness harassment, speak up and step up. Get the help of others if you feel unsafe doing so. Take the time to listen to the survivor and ask how you can support.
2. Reject the binary
- It’s humankind. Not mankind.
- It might not seem like a big deal, but terms such as “male or female” and “women or men” exclude non-binary and intersex people who don’t fall into any of these categories. Diverse gender identities have always existed in every culture, and ensuring the rights of transgender, genderqueer, non-binary individuals and more—who often face horrifying violence and discrimination across the world—is an inherent part of gender equality. (Generation Equality pro tip: Check out the ‘Genderbread Person’ to learn the difference between sex, gender, gender identity and gender expression).
- Everyday language plays a huge role in breaking gender stereotypes and rejecting the binary of “male and female”. Instead of using phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” or “boys and girls”, swap in a gender-neutral term like “folks,” “children,” or “y’all.” These little changes can go a long way toward shifting cultural perceptions of gender.
- Don’t assume you know someone’s pronoun or gender. One way to open up a conversation is to give your own: include your pronouns when you introduce yourself or add them to your email signature or your social media profiles. Gender pronouns include: she/her, he/him, they/them, ze/zir, ze/hir, xe/zem, and zie/hir, xe/xem, and ey/em.
- When referring to a person using the pronouns, gender and name that they use to identify themselves, do not refer to or reveal a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status without their consent.
3. Teach girls their worth
- Before even hitting puberty, girls across the world often carry internalized beliefs about their place, worth and role in society as dependant, vulnerable or incapable and are told to act accordingly, reinforcing gender stereotypes and keeping girls from realizing their full potential.
- It’s hard to unlearn these kinds of beliefs. That’s why it’s so important to start addressing them early. Remind girls in your life that they are strong, capable and deserving of the same respect as boys. Make sure they know they are more than their appearance: praise them for their intelligence, strength, leadership, athleticism and so much more.
- Encourage girls to speak out and assert themselves. Counter narratives and language that discourage them to do so: say they are “bold,” not “bossy.” Show them their thoughts matter by asking their opinions and listening when they speak. And, if you are a parent or teacher, invest in toys, books and movies that are gender-neutral. Show girls the possibilities of their potential and allow them to play as they wish. Let them know that there is no wrong or right way to be a girl.
Together, we can all break the bias - on International Women's Day (IWD) and beyond.
Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.
Are you in? Will you actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it?
Will you help break the bias?