Happy International Women’s Day 2021! Today presents the opportunity to continue to challenge the many barriers that women face globally.
I am saying this at a time when fixed gender roles are seemingly a thing of the past. Women are putting huge cracks in the glass ceiling and are now sitting at the table of professions that for decades have been male-dominated spaces. We have female engineers, pilots, doctors, CEOs, and directors, just to name a few. Women being remanded to the kitchen and tending to children and the home is slowly becoming a thing of the past as we continue to show the world that we are more than child bearers, cooks, and nurturers. Women now have the agency to decide their paths, to be the curators of their lives. However, the girl child still wakes up to face the fight of inequality in her ‘progressive’ life. Patriarchy has dictated how women should operate for so long that the journey to true economic equality continues to be a struggle. Self-actualization remains quite limited by what I would like to call ‘the backslap of gender roles’.
Economic inequality is a sad reality and remains a threat to us even today, despite the fact that women have become increasingly empowered to use our oppressions to rise above it. We have learned that we can turn our cooking skills, home keeping and design skills, and our nurturing nature into successful businesses. Female chefs, home designers, and event planners have changed the narrative about the insignificance of jobs traditionally held by women. This has led us to an era where men have started to have an appreciation of the work we do, furthermore, pursue careers in these areas.
Males venturing into careers that have been female-dominated seems like quite the achievement through the lens of gender roles and equality. It tells the story that not only women should cook and serve as chefs, not only women can be nurturers and work as nurses, and that it is not weak for men to work in so-called ‘women’s jobs’. Beautiful, isn’t it? However, this is just on the surface as the story paddling underneath tells tales of how inequality continues to be perpetuated by gender discrimination even within fields that have been traditionally assigned to women by society.
As competition with our male counterparts rises, we find that the inequality between the sexes takes precedence. Arguably, in today’s world, male chefs get hired more than female chefs, male applicants are still considered before female applicants even for jobs in fashion designing and home décor, just to mention a few. These economic inequalities stem from gender inequality that is informed by gender discrimination. Patriarchal systems appear inclusive while they continue to hand us just but a slice of every cake we could get our hands on. Patriarchy, gender discrimination, and inequality as we know it have evolved into structural barriers embedded in red tape and the fine print.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month and celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 under the theme ‘Choose to Challenge’, let us learn of the biases that exist to maintain the socio-economic gap between the sexes, and challenge them. Be empowered. Be the curator of your future. Women must have equal access to opportunities and exist in a world free of gender bias and discrimination.
Remember that from challenges comes change, and only you and I can make the change we want to see in the world. As we challenge every barrier and limitation blocking women’s economic breakthrough, let us also take up opportunities available as Black females. Visit futureblackfemale.com to learn about the Internship Program, an intensive digital literacy program that teaches transferable skills to prepare girls for professional lives and social entrepreneurship.