On 30 September 2017 YMCA Harare challenged some of these visions by tackling the issue of how young people can contribute towards a more gender equal society. We looked into some of the targets of the sustainable development goal (SDG)* number 5 which emphasizes on achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Topics discussed included the following:
• End discrimination against women and girls
• Eliminate all violence against women and girls (gender-based violence/GBV)
• Eliminate all harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM)
• Recognition of unpaid care and domestic work
• Female participation and leadership
• Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
The group agreed that females are also humans, in which gender equality and equal opportunities is considered a fundamental human right. Even our powerspace were not gender equal this Saturday, with a rate of only 1 in 4 participants being female. Regardless, we were able to conduct an engaging session with interesting discussions.
The group acknowledged that for women and girls to be more equal to men and boys, there needs to be a shift in power. Equality does not mean that women should have more power than men, but rather that the power, opportunities and rights should be distributed equally. Many men and boys find this reality threatening and therefore do not support gender equality and female empowerment initiatives. The transformative masculinity program recognizes this very fact and pushes for men to take an active role in advocating for gender equality.
“We cannot succeed when half of us are held back” – Malala Yousafzai
Some of the outcomes of the discussions were that we agree in the targets set for the SDG number 5, and that by working towards reaching these targets, women and girls across the world will benefit. We find that many men and boys do not reflect upon how their thoughts, actions and behaviour towards women affects the women and girls around them. By focusing on different topics challenging the traditional thought of masculinity and power, we do just that; reflect.
We are the next generation, and its our role and responsibility to change our future. Since one of the SDG targets we discussed states that unpaid care and domestic work should be recognized, we decided that the boys who attended the session, should go back home and recognize the work of one woman in their life by acknowledging something that they had done during that day.
I cannot wait to hear their feedback from the guys when we gather again this Saturday for yet another session. Tackling the issue of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Source: Marte Steiro, YAC2017.
*The sustainable development goals are a set of goals adopted by countries to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all and goal has specific targets that is aimed to be achieved by the year of 2030.