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Engendering change

October 17, 2013
Looking beyond Mars and Venus

How do we move from the mundane of the Mars-Venus analogy?

I’ve just read this: http://blogs.cfr.org/development-channel/2013/10/16/emerging-voices-henriette-kolb-on-gender-equality-and-economic-growth/ which lays out some compelling evidence making the case for how gender equality and economic growth are linked.

Linked positively, that is.

I work for CARE International, and we have made the case ourselves, and continue to do so in the specific area of work that I have been attached to for the last seven years, namely that of engaging business and markets in our precious “development agenda”.

We’ve examples of the positive links between investing in women and growing your business at the same time: from across the Asia region – from tea estates in Sri Lanka http://insights.careinternational.org.uk/development-blog/private-sector-engagement/tea-estates-see-bumper-returns-after-investing-in-worker-empowerment over to the factory floors in Dhaka, Bangladesh http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/bbc-panorama-workers-bangladesh.

Many of the companies CARE engages with are putting women’s empowerment at the centre of their future business strategies.

The United Nations have just launched a set of guiding principles on Women’s Empowerment –http://www.weprinciples.org/ – and how these relate to how a “responsible” business should be conducting itself.

Why all the fuss?

By which I mean, why have we arrived at a point in our collective evolution where corporations are prioritising women’s issues, and the UN is mandating action, without having been able to do something over the centuries and centuries before now to tackle the issue of parity between men and women?  Seriously, what has prevented such ennui and apathy and stagnated action on the issue?

Don’t get me wrong, given the state of affairs in terms of just how brutally unequal society is in terms of placing any type of emphasis of equity about the role of men and women, we should be fussing as much as is humanly possible.

Fussing, in fact, has never really solved anything.  We should be (and many are) campaigning, lobbying, asking questions, demanding more, aggressively pushing for change at all levels: policy makers, corporations, village elders.

Will there always be genetic, cultural, and ancestral norms that we cannot penetrate? The great debate about Venus and Mars, and the gazillions of words written about how different men and women are, is all well and good (and entertaining) but I think this exacerbates things further.

We need simple solutions to big issues.  So the question is, just what will it take to cut through all that utter nonsense and pointless fug of gender comparison, in order to create a shared and genuine sense of how every person in the world has equal value?

We each share the same senses, aspirations, objectives, skills, flaws and, ultimately, the ability to love.

That’s a pretty good starting point.

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