International Women’s Day, a day that hails the economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also strives to advance gender parity. Most women want to live in a society of relative equality, where their contributions in of every aspect of life are valued qualitatively and quantitatively as much their as male counterparts. Many countries already do their best to achieve this. Countries in Europe as well as the US, Rwanda and South Africa to name a few. These countries have been relentless and steadfast in promoting gender equality. As a result, women living in them are comparatively socially, economically and politically empowered than women in some parts of the world.

Gender equality concerns the access of resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision making. It’s important to note that even though there’s an urgent need for gender equality we must understand that it should be a shared responsibility and requires corporation within and between genders to achieve. Shared responsibility is the collaboration amongst gender stakeholders’ performing similar activities to achieve a desired goal. So why would women want the same opportunities as men when we could let them do the hard work required to acquire them and still access the privileges through their efforts?
We don’t because that isn’t empowerment. If we want men to buy in to gender parity women must fulfil their responsibilities and resist playing subordinate roles. Both genders must understand that although for practical reasons men and women may execute different activities success is eventually achieved by the combined effort of all participants. This is true in all aspects of life.

In Sierra Leone, large numbers of women campaign for gender equality but may not practice shared responsibility domestically. Husbands are still expected to be the main financial provider while some wives prefer to supervise. Not enough women take decision-making responsibility in their home or careers. There could be many reasons for this but this shouldn’t be the case and it makes a mockery of gender equality. A balanced equation is better for all. We can transform our societies to Balance for Better
by changing attitudes. Wives could pick up some household bills and ease the financial pressure. Don’t be reluctant to include him in running the household. You might be surprised he may be better at some household chores than you. Don’t underestimate his abilities or yours. Form a partnership and make joint decisions.

Create opportunities for yourself at work by being proactive. Volunteer for leadership, get involved in projects and use your soft skills. Pull your weight and add value. Don’t just demand rights, share responsibilities too.

Parents, set the pace by practising shared responsibility at home. Nurture children and cultivate their talents regardless of gender and don’t pigeonhole them into gender stereotypes. Most importantly don’t discriminate. Teach sons to love and care for their sisters but not patronise them. Encourage girls to use their voice and speak up for themselves. Get them to share responsibilities, pain and achievements. Teach them they need each other to make the world a better place and lead by example.

The same applies to Educators. Try to not develop gender biases and discriminate among pupils. Use gender neutral language practice shared responsibility by treating them equally. Practice gender equality when allocating tasks. Let them discover and stretched their abilities. Encourage mixed gender teams where possible as that would enable them to share responsibilities naturally.

Religious leaders should teach rights and responsibilities of each gender and encourage shared responsibility and partnership within religious context. God doesn’t discriminate between genders.

Finally for feminists and advocates of women of gender parity should practice what they preach. Don’t settle for less and keep pushing for parity even if results are not exactly what we desire. Gender parity will not happen overnight especially in a patriarchal society with entrenched customs and traditions. We need to be patient. Gender parity you must be earned.

So let’s change mindsets and help create meaningful existence for everybody.

Happy international women’s day!

©Inyillah Borteh Conteh

Mass Communications student. The Fourah Bay College.

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Author: Inyillah Conteh

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