The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is today, 25 November 2019. Marking the beginning of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. This is a time of reflection upon the past difficulties women, as well as others, have suffered at the hands of gender based violence and inequality in the workplace. With that reflection comes the opportunity to sit back and realise how far and wide gender bias travels.
Where we are
We find ourselves living in a time where women have more freedom and possibilities than the many years before us. Yet at the same time we still have to navigate a gender biased system that sees a female counterpart as inferior, less productive and somewhat in the way. You see, it is just not enough to have women match their skills to their male counterparts. Women are often perceived to be less capable in traditionally men orientated positions and are also required to be more “presentable”. Then women who are mothers as well are less likely to find work due to the fact that they will from time to time prioritize their children. This is also another reason that women who aren’t yet mothers tend to find gaining employment difficult, as they may one day have a baby. Though in recent years it has become more acceptable for men to take paternity leave for their babies so the argument is slowly but surely losing traction.
In fact we shouldn’t even be looking at men and women as opposing teams but rather the advantages of having multiple people on your team as they each have a unique insight which could ultimately reinforce the foundations of your business.
Finding employment can be a nightmare at best for any individual as unemployment sits on the roof and plenty of women do not work in South Africa. The unemployment rate went up to 27.7% for men, while it sits at 30.9% for women. On top of this youth unemployment rate rose significantly to 58.2% from 56.4% in the previous period, reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 2008. Women in our country have more to face in terms of employment and gender bias than just at the workplace. Gender biased violent crimes has also been on a systematic rise as our gender divide becomes greater each year.
When it comes to talking about mending the gap between genders we should stop comparing ourselves to each other and rather embrace the differences that make up the parts of a well functioning society. It is by changing perspectives and expectations of gender roles in society that we will be able to change how we perceive each other in the workplace as well. Working together we have a better chance at success in the future while giving the youth a stronger foundation from which to grow.
Take a moment today and walk up to a mother in your office and tell her how lucky her kids are and how wonderful it is to have her working with her.