Gender equality: ‘Engage men and boys in the fight’

Gender equality: ‘Engage men and boys in the fight’ Gender equality should not be a concern for only women and girls, but also for men and boys to be involved as allies and agents of change, experts say.

In his International Women’s Day message, the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda Urban Andersson said male involvement is crucial.

 “Male engagement in achieving gender equality is critical. Uganda needs more male champions and role models of gender equality,” he said.

“Men and boys are needed as advocates and stakeholders to break the silence, raise their voices and take action for the achievement of a gender equal society.”

The envoy said Sweden welcomes and strongly supports President Yoweri Museveni’s launch of the “HeForShe” campaign in Uganda.

'HeForShe' is a global UN initiative in which men all over the world are being encouraged to speak out against the inequalities faced by women and girls.

‘Slow implementation of laws’

Andersson underlined that progress for all can only be achieved if gender equality is at the centre of all development initiatives and secured at all levels in society.

 

He observed that while considerable progress has been made in Uganda in terms of achieving gender equality, some of the positive progress is yet to translate into real gains for the ordinary Ugandan, and more so the ordinary Ugandan woman.

“Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights are not yet fully met. While laws to protect women and girls have been put in place, their implementation has been slow. Also, women’s economic empowerment remains low.

“Addressing the root cause of gender inequalities like unequal power relations and violence against women is crucial for the advancement of all women and girls in all areas of society.”

In a separate statement, Guy Ryder, the director general of International Labour Organisation (ILO), said that quality benefits everyone.

“We need to show men why they need to be part of the conversation, and part of the solution. Including men in gender equality strategies will be necessary to accelerate change – gender equality is about all women and men, and benefits individuals, families, workplaces and societies,” he said.

'Future of women'

The ILO chief regretted that in most workplaces, there are gender gaps in the pay check, whereby women on average earn 23 per cent less than men.

He revealed that new evidence emerging shows that mothers suffer a wage penalty, often over and above the gender pay gap.

“We cannot accept that at current rates of change, it may take more than 70 years for women to achieve equal pay status with men. Nor can we accept that one out of every three women today will suffer some form of physical and/or sexual violence that cripples their ability to work.”

Ryder further noted that globally, only about half the world’s women are in the labour force, compared to nearly 80 per cent of men – a figure basically unchanged in 20 years.

While the percentage of women in top management and in positions of political leadership had improved, women head up only 5 per cent of companies, and only one out of 12 governments worldwide, said the director general.

He noted that promoting decent jobs for women is imperative for the next generation.

“The future of work must also deal with the future of women at work. It is a matter of rights and what is right for women and for sustainable development.

“Act early to close the gender gap. The gap begins in childhood and compounds through the life course. Quality education, training and skills development for girls and boys, women and men, needs to be ensured, together with effective strategies for youth employment.”
From New Vision

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