Gender gaps are one of the most pressing challenges facing the world of work today in Africa. The world heads to a place where it’s committing to creating a balanced approach to careers of both male and female employees. Gender balance is crucial for communities and economies to thrive. Countries that are leading in terms of Gender diversity and inclusion are doing much better in their productivity. We are now used to the narrative ‘what a man can do a woman can do better’; however, there is an additional factor to this saying.
Apart from promoting gender equality in the workspaces, it’s time we realize that both men and women bring a unique and different touch on the table. We need to recognize that men and women have quite different energies, and when they are both put together, they create synergy. Africa is no different; we need to take long strides before we attain diversity and inclusion. Therefore, let us highlight some of the obstacles we as Africans are facing as we try to achieve this 2030 goal.
African Retrogressive Cultural Practices and Beliefs.
Should we still be talking about retrogressive cultures in 2020? Well yes, as much as urban communities are starting to get opened minded about John being a midwife, we haven’t yet achieved 70% of the gender equality goal. The reality is, in most rural parts and small parts of urban areas, not all parents are comfortable with Mary being a mechanical engineer. They would rather see her doing a nursing course instead.
Is it that they have not heard the good news of ‘what a man can do…’? Of course, some of them have. However, it stops being monkey see, monkey do when the implementation stage comes along. The truth is, the level of socialization in us is deep-rooted. It will take very long before we get to the point we aim to achieve. Society wired us to dismiss some carriers depending on the gender automatically we identify with. Therefore, we limit ourselves even in our work areas. There are positions that “belong” to women, while others are men’s. Tea girls are automatically women right, or do you mind being a tea boy?
Femininity and Masculinity.
Does it occur to you that in this century, society shames people due to their professions? Luka is an African male nanny who most people refer to as a manny. It took Luka 3 years before he was utterly bold to talk about his occupation. Most people would shame him for being a man who does a “woman’s profession.” Coming from a community where if you don’t drive or construct, then you are kind of not a man Luka didn’t have it easy.
Even to date, there are jobs that are considered masculine, or somewhat not decent for women. The number of women who are touts, for instance, in the urban areas is very few, leave alone the rural sides. Most women avoid these kinds of jobs in fear of what society may think about them.
Inclusion and Diversity.
However, here is good news, the more we bring inclusion and diversity in work areas, the more economically we grow. The rate of unemployment in most African countries is very high. If we as a continent can look past the above stereotypes and see the value of diversity, then the quality and quantity of our productivity as a continent will grow. It’s about time we support and offer platforms for both men and women to venture into all industries and positions without bias.