Let’s Get More Women Involved In Decision Making Process
The first ever Public Service Male Advocacy Training at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Habour this week is an eye opener.
It helps men recognise that gender equality is more than just an expression to make us feel good.
Boys and men must learn that girls and women have an important role to play if we are to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).
UNSDG 5 is gender equality.
Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, says the recognition has much do to do with the fact that approximately half of the world’s population are women.
She adds: “It has to do with the fact that half of the world’s population are still limited in their contribution to an economy due to the age-old vices of society which have had the effect of suppressing them and limiting their role to gendered perceptions of what a woman can or should do.
“It has to do with the fact that the world cannot truly move forward when half of her population is lagging behind.”
It is a known fact that men still dominate many aspects of our national life. It continues to influence perceptions about the roles of males and females.
In many of our workplaces men still rule. While changes are happening, the rate of change needs to be accelerated.
In some of our cultures, it is an accepted practice that women are subservient to men. They are not allowed to speak in a meeting and eat before the men in a meal. They are expected to observe a strict dress code as opposed to their male counterparts.
Worse still, they become victims of domestic violence.
Mrs Vuniwaqa says gendered perceptions of male and female roles in society are so deeply entrenched in everyday life that they’ve become social norms leading to the many faces of the disempowerment of women when they step out of these norms into what is perceived to be male dominion.
The male advocacy training is designed to help men understand and support gender equality.
It involves throwing away prejudices and biases that colour the way we think about women and influence our actions.
Usually we have women’s groups like the Women’s Crisis Centre and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement campaigning about gender equality.
While this training is calling on men to support gender equality in the civil service, it is a call for all men and boys every where to empower and support our women and girls.
The message here is that we are all equal partners in development whether it’s at the village or settlement or national level.
So it is in our national interest that we involve our women and girls in the decision making process. We will not be able to achieve the UNSGD goals if our women continue to lag behind.