Biases against women are real and experienced daily. Biases disproportionately situate women at the losing end of all social, economic and political activity.
The theme for the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration on March 8 was “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
The campaign this year has been represented by the #BreakTheBias, with the gesture of one hand crossing the other at the wrist, in addition, to engage all on breaking all prejudices, stereotyping and negative inclinations about women.
The fact that some have unfair inclinations about women is bad enough; when such biases are the sole determinants of engagements with women, then a society retrogresses.
Come to think of it, if all the many biases about women were really the case, would it not have been to the advantage of those holding them and the society at large to ensure that women rise above the “faults” that give rise to the biases?
Indeed, all biases, including suggestions that women are not good at leading or taking bold boardroom decisions because they are emotional; and women do not avail themselves for positions, must end.
They must end because they are merely excuses!
Have we not in Ghana often heard some use the derogatory term, “mari-jata” (a sort of corrupted vernacular, meaning a “female lion”) to describe a decisive woman or “hard woman”, used pejoratively against an assertive woman, with the insinuation that she has lost her femininity?
Thus, in the same breath, women are accused of being emotional when they empathise and also being “too hard” when they assert themselves.
Another of the biases in Ghana are statements that gender activists lobby for women to be part of decision making processes. However, when it comes to getting the women into such decision-making processes, few or none is found.
What those who make such statements fail to realise is that for a long time, women have been relegated to the background in all endeavours. That is still the case today.
The awareness about the fact of gender equality and activism to ensure that all sexes have equal opportunities came in the late 19th Century, when women started agitating for the right to vote in public elections in Britain.
The fight to be given equal opportunities continues, with some women still having to battle sexual advances from bosses who are most often men; unfair wage systems, because they are thought to be incapable of executing tasks; and unfair opportunities generally in career advancement and growth.
In Ghana, the Gender Parity Index [GPI] (indicating the parity between boys and girls in relation to enrolment) always favoured boys.
It has only been for the last three years that the country has gained parity in enrolment for both sexes with the GPI of 1.002 in 2018, and a GPI of 1.012 in 2020.
With that in mind, is it any wonder when women with the requisite skills cannot be found for positions?
If opportunities in education have favoured males instead of females, for years, how can we get the skilled woman-power for what needs to be done?
That is why some gender equality activists champion special and particular opportunities for women, regardless of their skills and experience. At least, having been side-lined for so long, those special opportunities must be given for the requisite push.
And really, the case is not that women cannot be found; perhaps because of biases towards women, recruiters do not try hard enough in getting ‘the woman’ to fill a position.
Do women shy away from public or political positions? Yes, sometimes they do, and that is because it is a man’s world with all things structured to favour men.
Indeed, it will be a better and balanced world, if biases against women are broken and they are given a fair opportunity.
We need to fight and push further to break biases.