Steadily but sure, in environments where gender inequality is pervasive and the biases against women and girls have become almost like the norm, women and girls are springing surprises in leadership, science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

In our own backyard here in Ghana, this week’s auspicious celebration of International Women’s Day has unveiled a rich variety of women achievers, big and small. They come from varied platforms where in the recent past, no one would have thought of.

The examples of female skills and talents emerging today make a strong point in a world of biases that when the playing field becomes level, many glass ceilings would be broken. 

Gender equality

The United Nations’ agenda to set a day aside for the world’s focus on gender equality could not have been in a vacuum.  The problem of discrimination against the capabilities and capacities of women and girls in the nation or community building because they are described as the weaker sex in a male-dominated world is real.

That is why the genuine call for biases to be struck down to liberate the stereotyped woman or girl in any society to reach for the top.  The resulting benefits are many as this year’s focus on International Women’s day has revealed, thanks to the media.

Of all the years, the 2022 celebration meant a lot to me.  The clarion call to break the biases, wherever they are found and encourage women and girls to aim higher wherever they found themselves is clearly in order.

The real benefits for families, communities and nations when gender equality is considered a priority and the direct relationship it has on the ability of future generations, came home to me at a talk organised by Zonta Club of Accra to mark this year’s International Women’s Day last Tuesday.

The guest speaker at the event, Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, pointed out some of the positive outcomes of equality and equity.

Equal opportunities

According to her, in an environment where there are equal opportunities, there is a high level of productivity because it leverages diversity and inclusion in national development.  She explained that when nations attain gender equality, people are healthier, more peaceful and more prosperous.

I tend to agree with her.  True examples may be found in a home where a mother lifts herself up from the rubbles of societal stereotyping and forges ahead to assist in the business of housekeeping and the raising of the children.  The children from those homes have a much positive attitude to life and they do well too.

More often than not, the notion of gender bias is quickly dismissed.  But when one speaks to women in politics, or some who once aspired to be in politics, they would cite many examples of discouragements from spouses, parents, community elders and the like simply because they are entering a man’s world.

Some female achievers have talked about the biases and discriminations they face at the top of the corporate ladder or as they were climbing up irrespective of their qualifications.  It has taken women of courage with much encouragement to break the glass ceilings they occupy or once occupied.

Equality may not necessarily mean equal pay for equal work done.  It has everything to do with unfair comments and treatment on the basis of one’s sexual orientation.

As Dr. Appiah put it,  it has everything to do with unfairness in any society where violence against women and girls permeate, where sexual assaults, child marriages, rape, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, illiteracy are rife.  She added, “The social cost is massive and the society remains unequal.”

Societies should make it a concern to investigate and correct seeming gender inequality rather than dismiss it as non-existent.  Experts assert that gender inequality does a lot more harm than good. 

According to Dr. Appiah, “Gender inequality undermines physical and mental health and educational attainment, whereas equality harnesses individuals and leaves no one behind in nation-building”. In her estimation, “Gender equality creates parity which is powerful, collaborative and creates harmony in any society.”

She passionately called on all stakeholders including public institutions, non-governmental organisations, private companies, traditional authorities and religious communities to step up and make gender parity a reality.

In reality, therefore, a world of discrimination where one group is perceived to be better than others faces danger.  Such a world creates fear, anger, and charts a path to division and chaos.

On the other hand, a world of equality is a world of beauty where rainbow qualities and skills are harnessed for the prosperity of all.  It is a world that creates an environment of social cohesion, respect, peace and diversity and leaves no one behind.

That is what breaking the bias is all about.  It is more for creating a sustainable society for now and the future.  It cannot be too much of asking.

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The writer can be contacted via email at vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com