Gender inequality remains one of the most urgent challenges globally today (UN WOMEN, 2022). Evidence is the fact that there is still heightened level of patriarchy deeply rooted in systems, structures and instruments that limit men and women from enjoying the accorded rights and opportunities to meet up their full potential and self-empowerment and development-thus the gender gap remains evident in many sectors today such as education, leadership, STEM education, technology, politics, development and related senior management position. In Cameroon, this becomes worsen amidst the challenges of the ongoing crisis that intensifies the already patriarchal systems, unfair gender division of Labour within households, that limits women and the growing societal gender stereotypes that exist within our different cultures and communities, add up to limit women most especially.
The International Women’s Day, at its core, remains a day that uplifts radical demands for equality. The day demands the amplification of voices of women and demand gender equality. Going memory lane to 1909 March 08, with the Stemming up for equality in safe working conditions and fair employment practices for women; however, the international community formally observed the day as from 1975- UN added it to its calendar. This has come to be a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.
As we join the rest of the world this 08th of March 2023, to celebrate you, women on the theme ”DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” Let us reflect on the following issues:
- But what does Equality mean for women and men?: Equality doesn’t mean sameness, No it does not. Equality also makes us to understand that we are not the same as men and women. Therefore, the drive for change should admit that we are all not to be looked as the same. “Equality between women and men (gender equality): refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development.” (https://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/conceptsandefinitions.htm)
- What do we do then to provide the opportunities for all in our programs as an organisation towards promoting gender equality?:
We must therefore adopt a Gender and Intersectional approach that admits inclusiveness and captures our diversity for equality promotion in our work to ensure that we factor in that men and women are different based on different identity markers. Though often classified as “WOMEN”, note that this is misleading, we are not the same (Though “women,” we are different by: ethnicity, location, sex, educational status, age, disability status, Displacement status, income level, social class, marital status, gender, colour, race, religious affiliation, body health, body appearance, etc) likewise same for men-we are different.
- What does this approach offer to add up for Gender Equality promotion?
This gives all, men and women of every gender the same opportunity to have access to opportunities to fulfill their potentials and pursue their dreams.
In all, Gender remains a LUKMEF corporate priority and LUKMEF adopts her Gender Equality Policy and ensures effective gender considerations in all programs and projects, activities, operations. Also, LUKMEF does this through incorporating a gender mainstreaming strategy across sectors, programs and sectors and makes use of the gender analytical approach ensuring the collection of sex, age and disability inclusive disaggregated data for programming. This builds up and becomes relevant in our work as it acts to ensure that planning and implementing actions address the specific needs of various groups in the affected communities (women and men). In driving this strategy, we collaborate to empower and strengthen other Civil society Organisations in the drive of adopting gender sensitivity in their work, support women led organisations through our program to accompany them meet the needs of women and girls and communities.
Considering the urgency to take action and support gender equality, we therefore still reaffirm to continue the upscaling of our programs for gender equality by analysing gender differences, designing services to meet needs of all, ensuring access for women, girls, boys and men in our programs, ensuring full participation across gender, continuous training of women and men equally. And as we act, let us continue to address GBV in sector programmes, collect, analyse and report sex- and age disaggregated data, and target actions based on a gender analysis through effective coordination actions with our partners and other Civil society organisations.
4. What does it mean for us women today?
While we celebrate this day calling on governments, activists and the private sector and Civil Society Organisations alike to power on in their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and more equitable, towards creating a better future—not just for women and girls, but for all humanity and all life on Earth, women should do the following:
- Do not be afraid to fail, rather take on the accorded opportunities and try building your potentials in the Digital economy and TECH World.
- Discover the opportunities and exploit just as men the needed role of such in meeting up our self-empowerment and making a living of self-dignity and full participation.
”Our Call For Actors’ Enhancement, Engagement, Enablement and Empowerment of Women and Girls For Gender Equality”
As we celebrate this day, the International Women’s Day 2023 on the theme: ”DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” we call on all Local and international actors, agencies, groups, Civil Society organisations and government structures to enhance, engage, enable and empower women and girls to take leadership of their lives towards meeting their full potential and development across all structures, and sectors.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2023
By GODWILL Bate Bate, (PhD Candidate Gender and Development; Human Resource Coordinator, LUKMEF), email@example.com; www.lukmefcameroon.org, 08/03/2023