The fight against gender discrimination has seen a positive change in recent years. More girls have been given a chance at education, maternal mortality rates have fallen, and more laws are being reformed to address this issue.
However, with every step forward, the COVID-19 pandemic set us two steps back. Regardless of the severity of the gendered-impact by the virus, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Each of us can do our part in maintaining the progress and, subsequently, eliminating gender discrimination.
Here are three ways you can help promote gender equality in your daily lives (regardless of whether it’s during a pandemic or not):
It’s never too late for anyone to relearn (or unlearn) the things you know (or you think you know!) and incorporate it in your daily lives. Some people may have a distorted sense of what constitutes a feminist. Some men still shy away from the idea of feminism, thinking that being a feminist means that you’re less of a man.
In fact, gender discrimination affects every single one of us, regardless of whether you’re male or female, because of the stereotypes and preconceived notions on all genders.
Hence, by understanding the importance of feminism, will we only be able to spread awareness.
Changes do not need to be big, it needs to be meaningful. Endorsing feminism does not necessarily mean protesting down the street. You can start by simply being vocal about it.
Start small, for example, by posting about what feminism means to you. If you have the gift of the gab, include it in your speech… or even TikTok videos! Who knows, you will tug someone’s heartstrings, and make a difference (cue ‘I Was Here’ by Beyonce, please!)
If you’re a GIF junkie like myself, download and share cool GIFs supporting gender equality by the World Economic Forum. And yes, watch Disney’s Moana with your siblings, friends, or literally anyone, to instill a sense of women empowerment in them. Personally, I watch it with my younger sister to do just that (although she ends up wanting to watch it 100 times again, which I suppose will get her to feel more empowered. Though this may happen to you too — you’ve been warned!)
(cue Queen Bey) All the single ladies (or really anyone at all), don’t shy away from giving help if you or anyone you know is in need of help. Reach out to women support groups such as:
Plus, domestic violence should never, ever be tolerated. While getting help may sometimes be tricky in certain cases, it may be helpful to reach out to close family, friends, or even through available hotline services. In case violence escalates, make sure you have a safety plan.
Get guidance from survivors through the hotline such as:
Being in a support group is not a sign of weakness, but rather a symbol of solidarity that highlights women empowerment.
Malaysia ranked #104 in the Global Gender Gap index which means there’s still much room for improvement. Gender inequality is a global issue. It’s bad enough that we’re isolated due to the pandemic. Let’s not be imprisoned by ignorance and gender stereotypes.
Puteri Nelissa Milani is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business (Honours) Finance and Economics at Taylor's University. She is also a journalist for the independent student-run organisation Financial Literacy for Youths: Malaysia (FLY: Malaysia).
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