In the last week, the Nigerian social media space has been filled with a hashtag #JusticeforUwa. Calling for Justice for 22-year-old Vera Uwa Omozuwa, who met her cruel and untimely death in the hands of all women’s common enemy ‘’RAPISTS’. Until her death, Uwa was a 100 Level student of Microbiology. She was raped and brutally murdered by assailants in a church building where she went to study, perhaps for the serenity as places of worship have generally been unused in the past few months.
Most Rural women are known for household farming and trading to support the home while their husbands focus on lucrative crops, or migrate as seasonal or permanent workers. Asides being uneducated, local or rural women are reliable hands for viable roles when training and sensitization is in view.
This article is a call to governments, international organizations and NGOs on the need and benefits of introducing volunteering opportunities to local women especially in developing regions. The importance of this, is in its benefits and the impact it has on the women. If gender equality is a priority to all international organizations and government authorities, then this should be considered as one of the ways to achieving equality.
Volunteering, has been a modern day system of doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone who is not closely related to you without being paid. The benefits that accrues volunteering is enormous and can change a person’s life for the better.
Volunteering is providing support and help to individuals in need and vulnerable conditions. It goes a long in helping people(volunteers) connect, learn new skills, develop their career, and live a happier and healthier life.
Speaking of health and happiness, volunteering is a way of philanthropy which also has vital benefits to the mind and body as such; protecting mental and physical health, reducing stress, combating depression, helping one to stay mentally stimulated, and providing a sense of purpose. Giving can improve one’s happiness, and volunteering is a simple means of giving that does not require a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of money from your bank account, yet it gives a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.
In the light of this, getting local women involved in volunteering is a good idea to women’s development and gender equality. Therefore, here are three benefits of volunteering to the local woman.
Volunteering helps the local woman to connect and interact with her society:
In terms of socializing, rural women are left behind, they live a stereotypic lifestyle which is not good for the mind. Rural women know little or nothing about what happens around the world so they can hardly promote the course of women. This is why in most politically corrupt nations they voluntarily sell their votes to wrong leaders who at the end rule against them. Volunteering is a way of exposure for the local-woman to get involved and interact with her society. It can help her connect with her community and make it a better place.
Volunteering involves shared activities and team work, which help the local-woman to meet people, make new friends and commit to the society.
Volunteering boosts the local woman’s mental and physical health.
In Considering volunteering, the benefits it adds to both the mind and the body cannot be downplayed. If we all attest that health is wealth, then we should fight for the mental wellness of every local woman in the society.
Having to connect, interact and work with people has a profound effect on our psychological well-being, and this is an opportunity that volunteering provides. Volunteering thwart the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. It combats depression and can keep one happy and fulfilled. It also boosts self-confidence. Thus, the need to get the local woman involved.
Volunteering a way to induce fun and fulfillment into a local woman’s life
With the high rate of depression and suicidal, thinking volunteering for the local woman is being proactive. Although cases of depression and suicide is not common among the rural settlers yet the spread is ravaging which means that the rural settlers are not safe. There are no cast on stone reasons to why people fall into depression and commit suicide but there are ways to combat them from being depressed. One of such ways is when then are involved in fulfilling and fun-filled activities like volunteering.
Volunteering is a possible and convenient way of exploring and searching out one’s passion. For women in the rural areas who are not conversant with what their passions are, doing volunteer work can help find their areas of interest and passion. If they get involved in volunteer jobs, which is an escape from the day-to-day routine of farming or selling produce, taking care of home chores or family commitments, you will find that they will become motivated, energized and more proactive in those things that they have been accustomed to doing which is an advantage to them, their families and the society at large.
Therefore, if we love the local woman we must fight for their mental and physical wellness.
By Lahnee Pavlovich
I am a big believer in gender equality and passionate about equal rights, equal pay and equal recognition, not only when it comes to our female athletes, but for women in general.
I have a very young daughter and I hope that one day she will love sports as much as I do. She will certainly be encouraged to play, learn and get involved in a variety of sports as a kid. And if she chooses to take sport further one day, like most parents, I hope that she will have the same opportunities as her male counterparts.
Gender equality in sports has always been a controversial topic. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, said in 1896, “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.”
“Focus, determination, pain, disappointment, excitement, suspense, anger, relief: it’s all a part of the game whether you are a man or a woman,” Annie Spewak, former lacrosse player and junior at Robert Morris University studying Public Relations.
Although gender equality has come a long way, including UNESCO recognizing sports and physical activity as a human right in 1978, it still hasn’t come far enough.
Gender Equality – the stats!
In America 40% of sportspeople are women, however only 6-8% of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. And women-only sports stories add up to just 3.5%of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than females do. Additionally, collegiate institutions spend just 24% of their athletic operating budgets on female sports, as well as just 16% of recruiting budgets and 33% of scholarship budgets on female athletes.
Some people have the argument that “women’s sport is not interesting enough”. And even though over the years the popularity of women’s sports is growing, unfortunately the media coverage and sponsorship dollars have not necessarily followed through and gender equality remains an issue.
Take last July’s Women’s World Cup soccer final for example. It was the most watched soccer match – men’s or women’s – EVER in the US with nearly 25.4 million viewers. Yet the players were far less compensated than their male counterparts.
“We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the men get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships,” Hope Solo, American Goalkeeper.
The gender equality debate was reignited recently when former South African tennis professional Raymond Moore made a number of comments that were degrading to women in the sport. This was met with backlash from both female and male players including World Number 1 Serena Williams who was vocal in expressing her views on the subject.
What it boils down to is that we, collectively, men and women, need to do more about gender equality. We need to pave the way for or daughters, just as we do our sons. There should be no disparity in sports, nor in the workplace, nor in life. Women and men should be seen as, and treated as, equals in all respects. Gender should not be the thing that defines us or separates us from our fellow athletes.
Let’s show our daughters that they can be whatever they want to be, and get paid well for it too!
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS , SENAIT FISSEHA
Women comprise 70% of health workers around the world. And yet a new report shows that 70% of health organizations are currently headed by men, and that the women working in these organizations earn 15% less, on average, than their male counterparts.
Since the start of the year, we have traveled from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where health workers administering the polio vaccine are battling snowstorms to reach children who need it, to North Kivu, where officials are trying to stop one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history.
Women comprise 70% of these and other health workers around the world. And yet a new report from Global Health 50/50, released on the eve of this year’s International Women’s Day, shows that men hold a disproportionate share of power in the health sector and earn a disproportionate share of pay.
Having spent part of our careers assembling a force of female health workers who reduced deaths from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Ethiopia by half, we know the contributions women make to public health. That is why, under Ghebreyesus’s tenure as director-general, the World Health Organization has a gender-balanced cabinet for the first time in its history. And with gender parity achieved in the institution’s senior positions at headquarters, we will be working to ensure that regional and country offices follow suit.
Gender parity is a practical as well as a moral issue. Having more women in leadership positions effects positive change throughout an organization, improving performance, innovation, creativity, resilience, and morale. It provides role models and informal support systems that have historically been lacking for women in the workplace. And it reduces tolerance for toxic workplace behavior such as sexual harassment.
But gender is also a key social determinant of health, which makes gender parity in the health sector a necessary ingredient for reaching the WHO’s “triple billion” targets. The organization’s goal is to ensure that by 2023, one billion more people than today have full access to health care, greater protection from health emergencies, and better overall health and wellbeing.
Among other things, we know that gender – that is, the socially constructed norms, roles, and expectations placed on men and women – has a profound impact on whether one is exposed to unhealthy products and places, or whether one engages in health-seeking and health-protecting behaviors. We also know that gender-based discrimination can have a significant impact on the delivery of health services.
And yet, while focusing on gender as a social determinant of health and establishing gender parity at the WHO’s leadership level were no-brainers, the Global Health 50/50 report shows that we are the exception to the rule. Having reviewed the policies and practices of nearly 200 health organizations, comprising a workforce of more than four million people across 28 countries, the report finds vast power and pay asymmetries between men and women.
For example, Global Health 50/50 finds that over 70% of health organizations are currently headed by men, and that in 40% of the organizations reviewed, women occupy fewer than one-third of senior management positions. And few will be shocked to learn that the women working in these organizations earn 13.5% less, on average, than their male counterparts.
Sadly, these findings are in keeping with what one finds in boardrooms across the corporate and non-profit sectors. But such disparities are all the more worrying when they show up in the global health sector, given its role in protecting the wellbeing and rights of all people everywhere.
From the WHO’s experience, we know that gender parity does not emerge organically. Achieving it requires deliberate and directed organizational change. Hence, the WHO’s new corporate strategy, which is geared toward the Sustainable Development Agenda’s mission of “leaving no one behind,” features a strong emphasis on measuring gender distributions, equity, and rights across all of the institutions’ programs. That means each department will be accountable for upholding gender parity.
But while putting gender parity at the center of the WHO’s operations is an important first step, the larger goal is to support our member states in serving the people whose lives, health, and wellbeing depend on collective public-health efforts. To that end, three priorities should guide our approach to global health at all levels, from the local clinic delivering essential care to national health ministries and multilateral institutions.
First, we need to ensure that gender analysis informs all health strategies and program missions. Without fully understanding the gendered factors that drive human health, we cannot possibly achieve universal and equitable outcomes.
Second, we urgently need to close the power and pay gap between men and women in the health sector, by pursuing deliberate strategies to level the playing field for women.
And, third, we must recommit to transparency and accountability in health organizations, including on gender equality. Only then can we root out toxic management cultures, improve quality of care, and foster openness and inclusion at all levels.
When people of different genders and backgrounds come together, they bring their own experiences and wisdom, and the result amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Diverse organizations arrive at better decisions, because they can consider problems from a wide range of perspectives and draw potential solutions from multiple contexts. When it comes to global health organizations, government ministries, and national health institutions, gender equality should be embraced not just for its own sake, but also because it works.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Senait Fisseha is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan, Chief Adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, and a member of the Global Health 50/50 advisory council.
This article was adapted from the Project Syndicate.
Several years ago, we could say that there was a huge career gap between the genders all over the world. More women were involved in caregiving roles, family functions, and specific jobs which were considered suitable for women (because of the deeply rooted feminine features, and ability to multi-task within somewhat stress-free subtleties) such as teaching, nursing, and catering. Women were regarded as the “weaker sex” as they were generally considered incapable of keeping up with roles that involved security, physical strength and might, and an all-around mental/emotional stability.
The men, on the other hand, were seen as protectors, leaders, and builder who in most cases, have things figured out. This notion was born out of a close study of natural occurrences over time and not particularly because a certain category of the individual was selected to be marginalized. A meta-analysis concluded that men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people.
In the past in developing continents like Africa and Asia, customs and traditions dictated the roles of each member of the society. For instance, in rural African communities where communal living was the structure upon which they were built, girls were groomed to be home keepers and in order to avoid distractions, they weren’t sent to school. At that time, the only medals a woman could get revolved around being responsible through marriage, being a good home keeper (which included the proper training of her girl children), and the act of submission as a wife. Short of these, she was limited in vision not because she couldn’t dream big dreams, but rather because she didn’t even know what to dream about. Her society had made her short-sighted to the possibilities of career paths.
It was not the men that limited her by relegating her to the background and seizing choice jobs in exotic places. No! it was cultural norms passed down from one generation to the next. The custodians of these norms didn’t know any better. They saw a weaker sex and not the strength capable of causing socioeconomic development across nations of the world.
An article by Rebecca Onion titled “Unclaimed Treasures of Science “, reveals that as far back as the Cold War, there were already women in STEM in the developed countries. The official government line during the Cold War was: STEM careers for everyone! But as historians Margaret Rossiter and Sevan Terzian have pointed out, that push for science, technology, engineering, and math conflicted with gender norms and discriminatory institutional practices, resulting in a confusing set of mixed messages for women and girls. A book by historian Laura Micheletti Puaca titled “Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980 buttresses this point. Puaca wrote about female scientists, engineers, and educators who used innovative tactics to help women succeed in STEM, long before second-wave feminism in the late 1960s and the 1970s made issues of employment equity and stereotyping part of the national conversation.
According to the historian, World War II gave women their starting point. During the war, demands for more of what was often called “scientific manpower” and a shortage of civilian male workers prompted government and industry to start programs to train women in science and engineering. But when men returned from the service, women’s status in STEM fields worsened. The GI Bill sent a flood of male students to American universities, and opportunities—both for women who had gotten quick wartime training and for more established female scientists—dried up.
Importance of having women in STEM
It goes without saying that it has become a necessity to have more women in the STEM fields with the rush of digitalization consuming the world. The coming years will see massive changes in all sectors of the economy and nations of the world need to be prepared for this surge. Women constitute up to half of the world’s population, they are ready to be involved in developmental activities and should be put to good use. In addition, STEM-related organizations and groups must be commended for their relentless efforts towards encouraging a greater participation of women and girls in STEM fields and activities.
The way forward
Despite the successes already recorded regarding women participation in STEM activities, there is a lot of work to be done.
Mentors: There is the need for a greater support and encouragement from mentor figures. This will go a long way in women’s decisions of whether or not to continue pursuing a career in their discipline.
This may be particularly true for younger individuals who may face many obstacles early in their careers. Since these younger individuals often look to those who are more established in their discipline for help and guidance, the responsiveness and helpfulness of potential mentors are incredibly important.
Cultural Exchange: Another way to spike up the number of women in STEM is through Cultural exchanges.
It is true that some tribes and races have cultural barriers which may affect their decisions, cultural exchange programmes should be incorporated in those systems to enlighten such communities on the benefits of having women who are self-reliant.
By: Eruke Ojuederie
Despite the mountain of evidence from reputable organizations worldwide demonstrating the return on investment of promoting women to leadership positions, many companies remain in a time warp, continuing to pay lip service to equality and gender diversity.
A report, called the Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital, done by Babson College based in Wellesley, MA, found that in venture capital circles, women lose out.
The report, released last month, found that only 2.7 percent of the 6,517 companies in the United States that received venture capital funding between 2011 and 2013 were headed by a woman. And those companies only received 3 percent or $1.5-billion of the total $50.8-billion invested during that timeframe.
How does one explain the fact that highly educated people who profess to understand the business case for women still don’t get it?
My recent encounters with several clients seeking to shift the gender imbalance within their team caused me to reflect on isolating the root causes of persistent gender inequality and highlight the consequences of inaction.
In one instance, a senior vice-president in the financial services sector told me that he shared the news with his team regarding the promotion of one of his managers just prior to her taking maternity leave. Several managers questioned the timing and had difficulty accepting that she had earned the promotion.
In another situation, a major retailer received feedback from both men and women in leadership positions expressing their concerns about their company’s “women in leadership” initiative. Several female leaders said they were uncomfortable being singled out, while several men felt it was unfair that they were excluded from the group.
In both examples, despite the best intentions of leaders, workplace tensions over gender issues have increased as the root causes aren’t fully understood, leaving these organizations exposed to potential negative consequences to their bottom line and corporate image. Unfortunately, there are many similar scenarios playing out daily in industries worldwide.
What lies behind such reactions? Socialized conditioning is one explanation. We all learn to play specific roles from an early age, and it is a fact that these roles and stereotypes are internalized, reinforced and perpetuated in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
As adults, we may inadvertently find ourselves defaulting to the girl/boy conditioned responses in the most sophisticated business settings, without understanding that we are acting out roles learned in childhood.
The persistence of gender biases, whether structural or attitudinal, needs to be addressed for the following reasons:
- A new generation of talent demands equity and non-discrimination
Generations Y and the upcoming Z cohort closely scrutinize the character and leadership of a prospective employer. They are attracted to companies that not only take a stand on equality but also live and breathe it.
In a tight labour market, businesses can ill-afford to ignore the importance of their reputation to this new, highly savvy generation. Companies such as AutoNation, Lululemon, Starbucks, LinkedIn, and eBay successfully draw Gen Y talent to their executive board because appointing women gives them key strategic advantages, including representation at the highest level of their core customer base, the ability to hire sought-after thought leaders and innovators, as well as stimulating stronger financial performance.
Organizations that profoundly understand the mindset of the new workforce will be ideally positioned to attract, develop, retain and promote them.
- The female perspective enhances collective intelligence
Research first reported in Science Magazine regarding the contribution of women to the collective intelligence of a team garnered worldwide attention, particularly the studies highlighting the performance of women when tested on tasks relating to brainstorming, complex problem-solving and decision-making. The findings confirmed that a group’s collective intelligence was strengthened by the inclusion of women and their enhanced capacity for listening, collaborating and intuitiveness.
The CIA is one example of an organization that made a notable transformation of its culture by not only ensuring women had greater representation in senior positions but also explicitly recognizing that it was women on their team who discovered the location of Osama Bin Laden, allowing for him to be captured.
- Second generation biases hinder career opportunities
Subtle, pervasive barriers hindering opportunities for women’s career progression remain embedded in organizational structures, even though companies tout policies of equal opportunity.
In addition, characteristics typically associated with desired leadership traits remain largely masculine. These second-generation biases influence hiring practices, promotional opportunities and the limited appointment of women to senior positions.
Enlightened organizations are gaining the strategic advantage by overhauling the configuration of their leadership team and the structures that no longer serve their growth objectives.
- More women in leadership boost your bottom line
The financial benefits of greater gender equity are undeniable. Extensive global research conducted by Credit Suisse, Catalyst and McKinsey & Co. examining the link between women on boards and stronger financial performance of Fortune 500 companies has been cited in numerous publications. Examining the return on sales, return on invested capital, and return on equity, their research confirmed that companies with women on their boards of directors outperform those with the least number of women by significant margins in each category.
An organization can augment its fiscal position by making a concerted effort to significantly increase female representation at the executive level.
- Governments are mandating gender equity legislation
Ontario Securities Commission is moving forward with its “comply or explain” proposal asking companies to disclose the gender specifics of their board, as well as their plans and procedures to increase female representation in their executive and boards.
The OSC’s recommended rules for disclosure by TSX-listed companies, to be implemented by the end of this year, have been adopted by seven provinces and two territories, the regulator said this week.
While many governments and business leaders agree that change is needed based on the reasons above, not all are in favour of the move, arguing that companies should either regulate themselves or insisting the definition of equality be broader.
Canada would not be the first country to mandate gender equity for businesses. Norway took the lead in 2008. Iceland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands were next. Malaysia and Brazil have implemented quotas while Australia, Britain, and Sweden are advocating that firms voluntarily implement minimum female board appointments.
Ready or not, agree or disagree, there is no doubt the debate will continue – and your organization will ultimately determine its own destiny when it comes to gaining the strategic advantage of gender equity.
Source: The Globe & Mail
Title: Why you want more women in your boardroom
Maria is a successful businesswoman from Mexico who had always wanted to gain education and pursue a career in any of the science related fields, but never had the opportunity because her late father believed that a woman’s role is limited to the home.
However, Maria vowed to ensure that her daughters must live up to this dream.
But one day, she asked her 9-year-old daughter what she wanted to become when she grows up, and she quickly answered that she wants to be a writer or a teacher. She then asked her 7-year-old son the same question, and he proudly said that he wants to be a scientist or an engineer. These answers made a whole lot of sense considering that her daughter loves reading books and taking care of her American Girl doll while her son enjoys looking up science experiments and making Coke bottles explode with Mentos. But they never went down well with Maria.
You might want to pause and think, “what’s so wrong with this story?” After all, we need teachers and writers as much as we need scientists and engineers. Besides, what a kid wants to be when he or she is in elementary school isn’t necessarily indicative of their future career choices… right?
Fast-forward eight years. My junior year of high school, I took both IB Biology and IB Physics. The number of girls in my IB Biology class was about the same as the number of boys in the class. On the other hand, the number of girls in my IB Physics class was significantly smaller than the number of boys in the class. Similarly, in the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s top science and engineering competition for high school students, women made up 54 percent of the finalists in the biochemistry category but only 17 percent of the finalists in the computer science category.
Fast-forward eight more years. In 2010, women received on average about 14 percent of computer science undergraduate degrees at major research universities, and that number has not changed much since then. The trend that started in the elementary school that encourages girls to go into the humanities and boys to go into engineering and mathematics has prevailed throughout high school, college, and well into the workplace. The stereotypes we ingrain into our children at as early an age as four or five don’t just magically disappear when they get older. Instead, those stereotypes strengthen as children grow older and continue to explore the society that continually reinforces these stereotypes.
Why is it so important that we encourage more women to go into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)? Many of my friends, classmates, and even adult teachers and neighbors (both male and female) whom I have spoken to about this issue don’t seem to understand what the big deal is. So what if women hold less than 20% of computer science or engineering degrees? So what if fewer and fewer female students are enrolling in physics and technology classes as the years go by? We’ve come a long way since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they tell me. Maybe it’s time to give it a rest.
Here’s why it’s so important to encourage more women to go into STEM fields. In a country in which the average women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns, and in a country in which the majority of single parents are single mothers, getting more women into STEM could both reduce the gender wage gap and ensure that single mothers don’t have to struggle to put food on the table. Not only are there currently more jobs in the STEM field than in any other industry, but most of these high-tech jobs are high-paying, as well. According to the National Council for Women and Information Technology, there will be around 1.4 million computer specialist job openings expected in the U.S. by 2020. Women have the capability to hold 50 percent of those jobs. Yet, in order to get to the point where women earn fifty percent of STEM degrees and hold fifty percent of STEM jobs, we need to start at the very beginning.
By the very beginning, I mean pre-K, when kids are just beginning to learn basic math and science skills and most likely have not yet been exposed to the stereotypes regarding men and women in STEM. By the time women reach college or even high school, it may be too late to change their minds about going into STEM. After all, choosing a major or a career is a lifelong process of determining what we enjoy doing. And much of what we enjoy doing is determined early on by outside forces such as parents, teachers, and society’s general expectations.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, recently mentioned that of the 35 kids in a Stanford technology camp for young children, only five were girls. Of those five girls, Sandberg herself had enrolled two of them (her niece and her niece’s friend). What does this say about the parents of the girls who could have been in that camp? If a girl’s parents don’t believe in their daughter’s ability to succeed in engineering and technology, how can we expect that girl to grow up and believe in it herself? In order to get more women into STEM, we need to start by eliminating our subconscious attempts to gear our young boys towards STEM and keep our young girls in the dark.
Now, what about those of us who don’t have children yet? Can we do anything to help the gender gap in STEM? Yes, yes we can. According to Jocelyn Goldfein, the director of engineering at Facebook, the reason there aren’t more women computer scientists is “because there aren’t more women computer scientists.” If girls see that most of their female mentors and older female friends aren’t going into STEM, they are less likely to go into those fields themselves. Part of the reason behind this phenomenon is the stereotype threat, which states that if we are aware of a stereotype, we are more likely to act in accordance with it. In order to help our young girls to not be afraid of STEM fields such as engineering and computer science, older girls and young women need to show that we are not afraid of these fields ourselves.
Individually, we can’t change the fact girls make up a very small percentage of the programmers, engineers, and scientists shown on television and in movies, nor can we change the way the media portrays girl “geeks.” What we can do, however, is to make a difference in the lives of the young girls we know personally. And one day, the young girls we help will grow up to cure diseases, write computer programs, discover the next technological advances, and ultimately change the world.
Written by Celia Islam
Title: Closing the STEM Gender Gap: Why Is It Important and What Can You Do to Help?