The issue of gender equality and female empowerment seems to be following me this week in several forms. Unable to ignore it, I’ve realised that we in fact have a very long way to go and despite being in 2014, there are still archaic notions behind gender equality which should have died a long time ago.
My first brush came over the weekend with this powerful but succinct ad on YouTube that caught my eye and started this train of thought. Pantene in the Philippines touched on the issue of gender inequality at work in a 60 second ad, which showed the different labels society places on men and women in equal positions. A man standing at a podium, giving a speech is deemed persuasive, yet a woman doing the same thing is seen as pushy. A man with parental responsibilities staying up late to work is “dedicated” whereas a mother doing the same is “selfish”. See the ad below if you haven’t got my drift yet.
Initially aired only twice in the Philippines, Sheryl Sandberg endorsed the ad on her Facebook page and as a result, it is now being shown in the UK and US with the hashtag #ShineStrong being used to promote it on social networks. Sandberg said: “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!”
The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report ranks the Philippines number 5 for gender equality. But a survey by the social news network, Rappler, revealed that gender bias is still very much prevalent. Looking further into the report, the Philippines ranks number 2 out of 136 for wage equality, whilst the UK is shockingly placed as 49th and the US further down the list in 67th place.
Since going viral the video has had over 40 million views in the two months it has been online. A strong message, illustrated eloquently if you ask me.
To add to this, Stylist Magazine also featured their ‘Feminist Manifesto’ in this week’s issue encouraging readers to make an internal pledge to stand up for their fellow females, support equality and use their voices to prevent atrocious acts that females can be subjected to. Though I wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a feminist, I do strongly believe in supporting equality and lending a voice to ensure that women are presented with the same opportunities and the same rewards that men enjoy. The fact that labels and limitations still exist for women is ridiculous to me.
In fact, there are plenty of things that exist in society today that really grinds my gears, but something like inequality has no place in 2014.
Some women push against these limitations, getting what they want (and what they rightfully deserve) but are villainised in the process. This has to stop. Whether it’s by men who are threatened by a female’s dominance or by women who don’t feel they have it in them to be that bold, rather than put down an individual who has the guts to stand up for what they believe in, we should all be looking to them as an example.
Whilst Dove is the only other beauty brand I know that openly runs campaigns to support women when it comes to self confidence and image issues, Pantene has delved much deeper. So, where do we go from here? How do we actually make a change?
I’ve decided to sign and use the Stylist Manifesto! Condemn any form of abuse and/or violence towards women. Speak up when you witness an injustice. Teach the younger generation of females to be proud of being female. All too often we’re busy declaring we’re proud of our ethnic backgrounds and nationalities that we forget to celebrate our gender. Look at all the things females can do and have achieved. Why are we not relishing in this more?
Supporting causes pertaining to women and speaking up may not make a change overnight and suddenly conjure up equality within the work place, but acknowledging there is a problem and you’re educated on it is a solid start. The subject has been on a slow burner for years, simmering away. Don’t you think it’s time to pour some fuel on that fire, because I certainly do.