Today is Women’s Day. The theme for this year is #BalanceForBetter. This month, there will be a lot of women digging deep into their lives, hearts and work to try and give life to this theme. And if you and I are anything to go by, this theme will be done justice to. It can be interpreted in so many ways that make it so beautiful and empowering.
So when one of my former workplaces asked me to put my thoughts into words for a write up on what I think about the theme #BalanceForBetter, the following came to mind:
We live in a world where we feel pressured as women to be perfect. #IwokeUpLikeThis and #Goals make it even harder for us to be honest with ourselves about what we can or cannot accomplish in 24 hours. And because of those social expectations, we demand so much of ourselves. The Home, the workplace, the community and ourselves demand 105% achievement everyday. All because there is a culture that wants it now and right now. But we are able to transcend all these expectations and barriers and in our own big and small ways, excel. We are better even when there is no balance.
I then had a look the UN Secretary António Guterres’ address. And I was glad that he did not mince words at all:
Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. We live in a male‑dominated world with a male‑dominated culture. Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance.
I talked to a couple of women from all over Africa about what #BalanceForBetter means to them. Esther from Kenya in particular affirms what the UN Secretary General is talking about in that part of his address.
Esther, Kenya: – A woman should not be awarded a prize for an amazing innovation and have people say “she is even a woman! Good for her”. There should not be such comments because she is as human as the man.
A board should not be patting themselves on the back because they have two women out of the ten, and say, we have gender presentation. It should be a no brainer to have even more women at that table.
When a woman enters an interview room. The interviewer or recruiter already has set out questions mentally for her, questions focused on her for example : “Is she married? Will she require maternity leave with pay? The ground is far from leveled, there is absolutely no balance. Because none of these questions are set for men. But women show up everyday for work, for their personal lives and communities, and deliver.
Nashilongo, from Namibia also affirms the need for more women decison makers. Something that the UN Sec. general also addresses
“Better for Balance for me is more in Boardroom Representation. This should translate to better handling of women issues.”
The rest of the ladies were very unapologetic in their opinions.
For a long time women have lagged behind in various spheres of life, including education, leadership, science, etc. Balance for better means a lot because it calls for evening out the scales for all genders. We all stand to benefit of we are all shareholders in development process because then we are incentivized to demand for change.
#BalanceForBetter for me is all about equal pay, having more women in politics, leadership and decision making spaces and addressing gender imbalance causes such as patriarchy, religion and culture.
We all agree that A LOT still needs to be done in allowing women to take their rightfil place in society. While there are a lot of gains to celebrate, we need consistency for us as a global community to gain even more ground.
I look forward to days when it’s not about measuring balance, but acceptance of all that women are.