Combating stereotypes through gender equity

Patience A.V Arinaitwe

What you need to know:

  • “This starts with each of us recognising and breaking down the cultural barriers that impede our progress..."

Equity and Equality may sound like the same thing and at times have some people think both words have a similar definition. Equity is giving everyone what they need to succeed while equality is treating everyone the same.
Offering ground for support or an enabling environment normally creates gender equity in society. Strategies, fairness, and measures are required to actualise this as opposed to just having gender equality. Today, gender equity is a hot topic because of the inequalities that have long been existent stemming from our forefathers and the generational beliefs they held. Women have unfortunately ended up as primary victims of culture. 

For instance, historically, women were not allowed to vote, have career goals, eat certain food, dress in a certain way, go to school, or even have a say in choosing their marriage partner. While some of these inequalities remain in some parts of our societies, great strides have been made to ensure that women are enjoying the same benefits as men. 
Focusing more on equity can bridge the gaps in equality. This will not just level the playing field, but also work to change our cultures to be more supportive of women and young girls. 
The cultural shifts will require all the people from leaders to individual community members, to understand the difference between equity and equality and devising a strategy that recognises women as equal and deserving of equity in every aspect of society. 
This starts with each of us recognising and breaking down the cultural barriers that impede our progress to delivering equality and in turn prevent many opportunities from becoming a reality for many young and older women.

It is said charity starts at home; therefore, small steps begin with each one of us from our homes, workplaces, and communities. Parents should assign chores to all their children equally despite of genders. 
By taking such baby steps, we will not only impact our families, communities and the country but the world at large. Globally, all countries are making an effort towards gender equality and equity. This effort speaks directly into two United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 5 (gender equity) and 10 (reduced inequalities) as laid in the Sustainable Development Agenda.  Some of the targets for this goal includes ending all forms of discrimination against women, eliminating harmful practices, all forms of violence, enhancing use of technology, universal access to reproductive and sexual health rights, among others.
At workplaces, women ought to be accorded the same opportunities as men, including promotions, leadership roles, benefits and more.  This is something that KCB Bank Uganda has embraced. For example, both men and women have similar employment opportunities, all genders can serve on the management team and increasingly, we have more women taking up leadership positions on the board. The ratio of female to male employees is now 49:51, compared to 46:54 five years ago. 

Ensuring a good balance in our teams has seen the bank grow. We, therefore, recognise and celebrate organisations that have joined forces to ensure that inequality is a thing of the past and remains as such. Promoting gender equity will not only impact our families and country socially but also economically Gender equity prevents violence against women and girls across the world and it’s essential for economic prosperity.  Societies that have worked to make this a reality for the women are normally safer and healthier. It is a human right and everyone benefits from it.

The author, Patience A.V Arinaitwe  is the head of Human Resources at KCB Bank Uganda.