By Heeba Chergui, Generations For Peace Communications Intern
If there is anything the world can take away from this pandemic, it is the importance of leadership and challenging gender norms and biases. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how resilient humans can be when challenges are thrown in their direction, sometimes without any prior warning, to shift their responsibilities to tend to the people they are working with and providing for their communities and families. This is especially true for women in leadership positions, who are often told to stand back during hard times or are not taken seriously.
Our volunteers across the globe have shown us how they have worked to challenge gender biases and how their work contributes to ensuring gender equality in their workplace, reflecting the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day: Choosing to Challenge. Many women, unfortunately, are used to gender norms and preconceived notions that label them as “delicate” or “weaker” than men, but we at Generations For Peace want to amplify the experiences and voices of the women in our ever-growing team of volunteer leaders around the world, and how they are challenging preconceived notions and implicit bias regarding gender in their field.
We asked our women volunteers to answer the following question: How do you challenge gender bias in your field and work towards a gender equal world? Keep reading on to learn how our global volunteers are striving to achieve a gender equal world, what helps them achieve this goal, and the importance of recognising the issue at hand.
Naa Adei Boateng, Ghana
There are two things I usually do – one is to exhibit my competencies, skills, and abilities which helps diffuse any prejudices or biases against me as a woman. The second thing I do is to subtly advocate through educating people who might have some entrenched positions on the subject of equality. I have come to understand that many people have formed ideas of biases out of misinformation, and education is one way of dealing with this.
Majdulin Salahat, Jordan
The fact of the matter is that women face gender discrimination in today’s society. Women may face challenges in society, such as gender norms, biases, and discrimination based solely on their gender. Unfortunately, sometimes the blame is placed on the woman herself. Our generation is promising, and we must face these challenges and overcome them together. We must advocate for employers to create a work environment in which both genders are welcome in.
Taima Alomari, Jordan
I am aware that it is extremely likely that I will face many overlapping obstacles in whatever field of work I pursue based solely on my gender. In order to combat gender discrimination, we as a society must actively involve both genders in community activities, roles, and leadership positions. We must also work to educate our peers about the importance of gender equality and how it can positively impact our future.
Dana Salameh, Lebanon
I challenge gender bias in my field by bringing the unconscious (those who have implicit biases) to the conscious and making others aware of prejudice conduct. Some individuals pursue discriminatory acts consciously, which we should confront immediately on the spot. Moreover, one of the very effective ways to confront gender bias is by holding seminars and workshops that work towards gender equality and empowering women. We can also utilise media platforms to shed the light on the importance of empowering women and supporting equality, especially in communities and workplaces.
Ghida Khalifeh, Lebanon
In my field of work, which involves engaging with youth from marginalised areas, I have difficulty gaining their trust and attention as their instructor; they make it clear from the beginning that they prefer a male instructor. They undermine my abilities because of my gender because women leadership is acknowledged where they grew up. So, I make sure to work on this point by proving that I put in as much effort as any other male on the team would. Eventually, when they see how strong the women in the team are and that they are perfectly capable of handling a whole group with authority and no difficulty, trust develops. Even further, our team members make sure to defy all unjustified gender roles, ensuring women and men are treated the same when it comes to doing the same tasks. ‘Refrain from doing that, it’s hard for you’, ‘You’re not capable of doing that alone’, ‘Do you want a man to help you?’, are sentences we have eliminated from our vocabularies, and we aim to remove them from everyone’s vocabulary as well. It is time to treat women and men equally.
Ruth Bala, Nigeria
I challenge gender bias by helping women to be outstanding in their official functions, which leads them to be powerful and acquire top positions. Ensuring gender equality is up to all of us!
Branka Markovich, Republic of North Macedonia
As a woman who is a leader, I am the voice of the women – proving that we can manage any and all of the challenges that arise, especially within the workplace. That is why I insist on evaluating employees based on quality, accountability, and work dedication – to ensure gender bias does not sway these evaluations and forge the path for a more gender equal workplace.
Gezime Hajredini, Republic of North Macedonia
My courage has been the strongest tool that I have used for challenging prejudice in order to accomplish my goal of promoting gender equality. As a single mom, I have used the same tool so that I can also protect my daughters, even in a juridical case related to their heritage. Strong women should not accept justification from no one!
Thanamal Hewage Renuka, Sri Lanka
Gender is segregated as per structural factors, and at the same time, thoughts and attitudes may differ based on one’s gender. I work in the financial sector with both women and men in my workplace. I work with them without prejudice or preconceived notions and always support them coming forward without considering any discriminations. As a woman serving in a managerial role in my workplace, I especially support women to find their inner talent and leadership skills because today’s women are competing with men in each and every field. Women are more often unsung heroes! Today, there are several high-profile female leaders and women working in the financial sectors, more prominent than ever! However, workplace statistics tell a very different story. Women remain underrepresented at every level in the business pipeline, with the senior levels by far the worst affected. Therefore, to bring out women power towards greater gender equality in the workplace, I work to and support introducing more women to leadership positions.