The following article was written by our founder, Zia S. Hasan for the Ananke magazine for its special, digital edition to mark the International Women’s Day 2019. Ananke is a non-profit, digital publication showcasing women trailblazers as role models. Documenting women achievements, the online publication covers a broad range of topics including gender equality, sustainable development, women’s health, education, STEM, society and much more. 

Change for Gender Equality

After centuries of male dominance, we are viewing a threshold of change – an emerging stronger feminine era. As a result of continuous gender equality awareness campaigns, many women can now make their own choices, have their voices heard and respected. However, the struggle is yet not over as women are still fighting for their role in society. Although the glass ceiling is being raised compared to recent years, it still exists. Interestingly, women have always been strong, multi-tasked, and fearless from the inception of mankind however only until recently, the society has started to understand and accept the true strength of this gender. It is a continuous struggle as many among us are still dis-empowered. Women are still being ridiculed, unequally treated and ignored. This emphasizes the significance of a continuous movement for the change of mind-sets and the elimination of patriarchy.

Change begins from within. As one person changes, he influences the ones around him and so on, creating a ripple effect that brings a revolution of change. As I write of change, we must understand that the change I am mentioning here is the change in our thinking, and firmly believing that men and women are equal and have a shared responsibility in the society. Equality by no means is going against men or to create any competition between men and women. Both certainly are different physically, mentally, and emotionally yet they are similar in many aspects – both are human, imperfect, and need each other’s support to grow , excel and should strive to complement each other in their shared struggle to improve life. Gender rights do not mean superiority of one gender over the other but rights are how others treat you, especially those with authority over you.

As John Legend says, “All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights the world will be a better place.” Men are greatly influenced by their upbringing, and social environment in which they have grown and matured. Going forward, we can overcome the gender gap from our society is to start teaching men, from a young age and continuously as they grow and mature, about the true strength and value of women in their lives whether they are their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends or colleagues. Let’s not forget that equality for women does not fall entirely on women’s shoulders. As much as we love to put all the blame on mothers in raising good sons, we rarely highlight the importance of promoting ‘Feminist Fathers’. Equality begets equality. The feminist father raises happier, balanced, and more successful kids. Both sons and daughters benefit when they’re nurtured as equals. Kids’ confidence and beliefs about themselves and others are shaped by the world around them specially by the parents. A Father must appreciate his daughter’s leadership skills when she is being bossy. Celebrate her efforts to lead and help her build her confidence. Similarly, teach your sons empathy and respect for women around them. Boys who grow up in gender equal homes are more likely to create equal homes when they become fathers.

In short, it takes everyone and its  everyone’s responsibility to create an equal world. Real men treat women with dignity and give them the due respect they deserve. Men must overcome their ignorance and chauvinism and need to believe in women. They can create a huge difference. Fathers need to believe in daughters. Brothers need to believe in sisters. Nations need to believe and invest in their women. Everyone’s an influencer. Women should enjoy equal rights, not because men must ensure it , but because it benefits the society in the long run. It effects the growth and prosperity of the community and the future generations.