Yesterday morning I went to a pink ribbon breakfast. A great event for a great cause.
Many intelligent, inspiring and strong women in the room and on the panel. The discussion was around what we can do to improve the lives of women. The conversation flowed across broad aspects of various women’s lives. From in the Australian boardroom to in a primary school in Afghanistan. Having just handed in an essay on the gendered dimension of development for my Masters they were conversation points that really resonated with me. But for some reason I found myself looking around at the handful of men in the room.
As these amazing women talked about education and empowerment of females I wondered what the men where thinking.
As the conversation moved to the need for boys and men to grow up on a foundation of respect for women and an understanding for shared home responsibilities I was trying to picture how the men in the room felt listening to this. I watched a man fiddle with a pen, another check his phone and one massage a sore knee. I don’t know why but I felt uncomfortable for these husbands, sons and fathers.
I wholeheartedly agreed with all the points that the women said. But I really wanted to know what the men thought too. And I didn’t. Having an all women discussion about the plight of women felt one sided.
I found myself walking away wanting to hear the male opinion.
Knowledge and education does enable empowerment. But equality is not one sided. To attain equality and improve the lives of women we need to hear the voices of both genders. The men who show their support for attending a pink ribbon breakfast dedicated to improving the lives of women are the ones we should also be hearing from. They have the potential to influence and encourage their male counterparts to promote a respectful, empowering and equitable society. These men are half the solution to improving the lives of women. They are valuable commodities.
If you are a man who went to a pink ribbon breakfast you are awesome and I would love to hear your thoughts and experience.
Love this blog post Sarah. A few months ago I thought the same thing while I was reading about development policies and programs concerning gender. Most of the research discusses women but without gender equality and as you say involving men and hearing their opinions, I don’t see real change being made. Men around the world suffer from gender inequality too and I’m sure many see injustices happening to the women they love and want to use their influence to make a positive difference. Why do you think men aren’t asked to share their opinion?
Hhmm it is an interesting one. I am not sure if the panel wanted to hear it? Perhaps we can get so wrapped in a world of giving women a voice that we forget that men can also add volume to that same message. On the other hand, the men there could have also proactively participated in the discussion – but I do not think the forum would have welcomed their input.