GENDER EQUALITY, GENDER ACCOMMODATIONS, OR GENDER JUSTICE?

Which direction for you?

Has this concept of gender equality been misguided and accepted with its flaws today?  

This article aims to spark a reflective conversation on Gender Equality as a concept from its conceptualization perspective.

I have been in a reflective mode on this subject of “Gender Equality” and I have been asking myself whether the whole idea of gender equality is right in its own right or has been misconceived and misused today?

The question that has been lingering in my thoughts is the understanding of the origin of gender equality. I did brief research around this and found the following:

The Subjection of Women, an essay published in 1869 by philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mill. Mill is among the initial works that argued in favor of legal and social equality between men and women. John argues that ‘the legal subordination of one sex to the other’ is ‘wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement’ (p. 1). From this time onwards there have been various conversations and groups that came to spur, enhance, and review the critical agenda into what we have today on gender equality in all spaces.

It’s unfortunate to see that today, over 150 years later we still have issues with such social and legal rights of women in many countries. 

On the flip side…

Robert Webb in an article in 2018 on How not to be a Boy shared some points that tried to explain the unique nature of being a boy growing up, filled with many injuries to body and spirit, the pressures and repressions of manhood which in many instances may lead to high rates of male isolation, misery, and suicide. On the same note from as early as the 1970s, there have been numerous men’s activism groups that also aimed to propagate men’s rights, representations among other aspects.

So this conversation around equality has transformed over time…of course with numerous activism from both gender sides coming along and changing the conceptualization of the critical original concerns.

But, before we go further, let’s look at some of the contemporary definitions of the concept or agenda of gender equality so as we get a foundational understanding before sharing some arguments which may be food for thought.

Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations, and needs equally, regardless of gender. (From Wikipedia)
"Gender equality is when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. ... Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls. It's essential for economic prosperity. Societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier. Gender equality is a human right." (VIC.GOV.AU)

These definitions in my opinion are misguided and contradictory with the follow-up intentions. There is no such thing as sexual equality or equality of sexes, right from the basic physical sense to the uniqueness of both males and females. Equal rights and opportunities for women and men are not gender quality…but gender accommodation that then aims to repair the gender discriminations that have been there historically.

A recent report by the United Nations development program highlighted the issue of gender inequality, “Gender inequality is not perpetuated exclusively through differential access to and control over material resources. Gender norms and stereotypes reinforce gendered identities and constrain the behavior of women and men in ways that lead to inequality.”

Looking at these statements still makes me wonder why we are perpetrating a wrong notion across world-respected bodies. The key concern here is not inequality but discrimination which can be driven through gender accommodations and not equality. It is common knowledge to understand that the behaviors of men and women cannot be the same, our physiological, psychological and even our genetic orientations are not the same. However, we can accommodate one another as equals in all spheres of life which doesn’t surmount “gender equality”.   

If we use the word gender equality as has been adopted and normalized by our society, the opposite of it is inequality which is what has been propagated to drive the agenda of equality which in my opinion is totally misplaced, misguided, and propagated wrongly. Unfortunately, it’s propagated and also driven by religious leaders, scholars, and other researchers who are to be on the frontline of developing clarity on this subject.

In my opinion, the aspect of inequality should be more of gender discrimination, and the aspect of equality should be more of gender accommodations. These I believe should be the agenda to be researched, and driven since it doesn’t propagate activism the way it is today but, fosters a challenge to many that if there are spaces where we possibly have extremely unbalanced gender measures, then something needs to be done to bring some form of acceptable alignment.

Gender accommodation then entails empowering all genders to be equally accommodated in all spaces and spheres of society without discrimination. All spaces mean all, from inheritance to church leadership, to all those areas that both genders were traditionally discriminated against from accommodating.

Equal accommodation in all spheres is not “gender” equality.

This form of understanding separates the discussion of inequality from gender based-violence and under gender injustices that are different. Mixing agendas on injustices to equality conversations negates the origination of the concept and agenda. This agenda on equality today has been hijacked by both female and male chauvinists to drive equality which is against the creation order base on religious backgrounds.

I do not advocate for gender-based violence and in my opinion, strong measures should be taken against both gender who are involved in it. I feel that component has been sneaked into the discussions of gender equality to bring some form of sympathy to the meaning and should not be part of gender equality discussions and conceptualization. 

I have a strong belief that the concept of gender equality is misguided across all spaces which then has resulted in an acceptance into the natural understanding as normal. 

The question that lingers my thoughts as am thinking about this…”Is there gender equality or it’s gender discrimination which requires accommodations?”

Gender accommodations have a place in the Bible looking at the creation story. Genesis 1:27, narrates, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them”.

It’s on this basis that most people and the narrative of equality came about as a result of misconception. If males and females were to be created equal, then there would only be male-created to accommodate both genders. The fact that God created males and females in his own image means that in all spaces of life both males and females need to accommodate each other on equal measures since we are all made in the image of God. However, this does not equate to equality in gender or gender equality for this matter.

I believe that we have been propagating the idea of equality which from the creation perspective may not be the initial Godly concept. 

I believe the Godly idea was more on gender accommodations in equal measure. So over the years, the notion of equality has been misguided and I say propagated out of the secularized principles and perspective which has brought a lot of arguments, confusion, activism, and heated debates especially when one mentions the concept of equality in a different light like I am now. 

I am an advocate of gender accommodations. Appreciating our diversity as male and female and the fact that we are not equal negates the idea of using equality after gender.

And don’t get me wrong, many equality aspects are driven by the fact that both males and females today can undertake the same work responsibility. Totally in agreement, however, this is not gender equality. Many organizations are striving to accommodate equal numbers of male and female 50/50 in their organizations and shout about it when achieved. I dare say again this is not gender equality. Many organizations are striving to have 50/50 gender parity in boards of organizations and possibly at executive levels. Again I say this is not gender equality. Governments and parliaments including here in Kenya are still struggling to meet the 1/3 gender parity let alone 50/50. And I will say again this is not gender equality. 

I want to be cautious in saying that we have today adopted the gender equality song from a misconception of gender accommodations. 

The world today is demanding gender accommodations and not equality. Male and female will never be equal but we can accommodate each other in all spaces and spheres of life. Allowing equal spaces is not equality, it’s accommodations. Ladies being able to do most of the responsibilities and even more in organizations does not equate to equality but accommodations. Men being given an opportunity in some of the ladies’ strongholds does not equate to equality but accommodations. 

I am a husband and a father, I strive to ensure my wife is fully accommodated in all spheres in our lives as an equal partner. However, we are not equal. Additionally, I strive to ensure that my daughter grows up to understand that she can undertake anything from all perspectives and she needs to strive to both push to be accommodated and also accommodate others both men and women. But, at the same helps her understand that she is uniquely created and not gender-equal to the men around her.

As a parting shot, I believe the agenda of gender accommodation can be achieved sooner than later in our world today, if we appreciate our gender differences, avoid gender discrimination and propagate accommodations, we should have unevenly noticed discriminations in all spheres of our lives.

I say, again that this article was meant to create some reflective discussions…would be happy to hear your views and comments on it through comments or by email below.

Gilbert Ang’ana is the CEO of Accent Leadership Group. He is an expert source for topics relating to all matters leadership, coaching, and organization development and a regular content contributor to various online publications. Gilbert is also a Director at Innovate Leader Academy an online academy that teaches matters leadership. He is a Leadership Coach, Scholar, and an Independent Research Fellow. You can reach him through www.stepafrique.com

Published by Coach Gilbert

Coach Gilbert is a Leadership Coach, Speaker, Trainer, Author, a Thought Leader on Self-Leadership, Strategic Leadership & Conscious Leadership & on a mission to creating a movement of leaders whose power of influence is far greater than the authority of their position.

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