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#Eachforequal rings hollow!

New social norms index shows 90% of people are biased against women. How does Voice fare?

By Marinke van Riet, Global Programme Manager, Voice

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #eachforequal. #Eachforequal indicates we/I have a collective and individual responsibility towards ensuring that my sisters and I enjoy the same opportunities, privileges and responsibilities as men do. I often refer to my own responsibility by using the hashtag #sisterhoodforsistergood.

To celebrate the day, one of the events organised is Unsung Sheroes jointly hosted by the Voice and Hivos team in Tanzania and the Netherlands Embassy in DarEsSalaam on the 6th of March.  Unsung Sheroes is about giving a stage to those women who normally don’t have one- to make their voices heard and respected.

In addition to the offline event we are also amplifying many other Unsung Sheroes online. We do this by highlighting the voices of those grantees that are working on advancing  

#Eachforequal. After all, 26% of the Voice grants include work on women’s issues, under the intersectional umbrella of the rightsholder group Women at risk of exploitation, abuse and/or violence.

Voices such as from the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers, working on a regional influencing project called Forefronting our agendas! The three-year influencing grant works towards getting the voices of sex workers included and respected by governments, women’s organisations and UN CEDAW processes alike.  In the voices of one of their programme participants – a sex worker herself: ‘Sex work is my choice, I enjoy my profession. I don’t want to do any other work.’ The state is responsible to ensure my rights don’t turn into wrongs.” 

Or the voice of a woman participant from Indigenous Women Rising, a Knowledge Exchange Voice organised to explore the question of why and how women persist in the struggle for the rights of indigenous people.  “Working with strong women and activist youth, you tend to think that everybody is like that or the communities are all liberated.”

I thought Voice was getting somewhere.

But all of the above now rings hollow……After reading about a new index which was launched today by the United Nations Development Programme.  The Gender Social Norms Index demonstrates how also our own beliefs (including mine and yours, sisters!) are holding us back in achieving our full potential. The index analysed data from 75 countries -covering 80% of the world population. And the outcome is not good: 90% of people are biased against women. Ninety per cent! Look around you at this precise moment and from the ten people you see pick the one person who you think or know is NOT biased – is it even possible? 

The index found that almost half of people feel men are superior political leaders and more than 40% believe men make better business executives.

Pedro Conceição, director of the UNDP’s human development report office was shocked by the numbers and stated. “What our report shows is a pattern that repeats itself again and again. Big progress in more basic areas of participation and empowerment. But when we get to more empowering areas [of politics and economics], we seem to be hitting a wall.”

Seems the work for Voice is cut right out for us! By being bold, by being a legend and by being strategic on economic and political participation. After all, to use the words of the Chairperson of Cordillera People’s Alliance, an Innovate and Learn grantee from the Philippines:

The actual heroes are women. They were the ones who slept under the blades of the bulldozers.” 

Together as we-men we can tear down that wall!

#Eachforequal #sisterhoodforsistergood


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