5 ideas for reshaping the gender hierarchy

Gender equality is gradually improving throughout Asia.

East A
sia has eliminated around 68.8% of the gender inequality gap, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index 2021, while South Asia and Southeast Asia have closed about 62.6 percent.
Covid-19, on the other hand, has pushed the gender debate back. Women, for example, make up over 70% of the global health workforce and are currently more likely to work in frontline positions. At the same time, women continue to be underrepresented in national and global leadership positions in charge of the COVID-19 response – decisions that have a direct influence on their health and safety. This is why we need to refocus our efforts and address gender issues at the systemic level, changing ideas and habits. The ultimate goal is equality for all people, not just women.

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As part of the Changemaker Leadership Series, Ashoka Asia recently finished a series of "eye-level" dialogues between high-impact leaders in charity and entrepreneurship to discuss how to promote change on the pressing issues we confront. Here are some of the key conclusions from our gender discussions.

1. A new gender hierarchy for the twenty-first century.

The old gender model is no longer valid. Gender is OK as a natural construct, says Ashoka Turkey's country director, Field Leader Zeynep Meydanoglu, but as a societal construct, it is excessively rigid and hierarchical. We're dealing with a 15,000-year-old gender structure that can't keep up with 21st-century realities.

We must overcome the "authenticity gap" in order to achieve equality and inclusivity. The authenticity gap is a gender hierarchy that dictates how people should be rather than who they truly are. Empathy, self-realization, and self-expression can be used to close the gap.

"Changemakers can't be people who aren't connected to themselves or others through empathy." Zeynep Meydanoglu is a Turkish journalist.

Gender equity's success is on our capacity to unite people behind shared principles that will allow us to create a flexible and inclusive gender order. Oppression must be replaced with empathy.

2. A re-evaluation of our language

Language is important in our efforts to reframe gender as a construct because words create worlds of change.

Language can be used for both positive and negative purposes. It has greater power than any form of physical persecution. As Nilekani Philanthropies' founder Rohini Nilekani puts it:

"The correct language will catalyse major change movements and make the gender conversation considerably more approachable."

The proper use of language begins with the definition of basic terminology. What, for example, is gender equity? What is the most inclusive language for the LGBTQ+ community? Common misunderstandings and assumptions can be extremely harmful. The UN has developed a website on "Gender-Inclusive Language" as part of SDG Goal 5 on Gender Equality, which focuses on offering tools and rules for using gender-neutral language. To send the proper message, we need the right language.

Fellow of Ashoka Indonesia Dewi Rossana Rossana Dewi Rossana Dewi Ross

3. The Family's Power

The cornerstone for redefining the environment is the simplest and most intimate ecosystem that every human being has: their family.

Nani Zulminarni, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of PEKKA, and Leadership group Member of Ashoka, states, "We need to develop an ecosystem where children may grow up as changemakers to tackle gender justice and gender equality challenges." What important is that we begin with "the simplest structure, the family, and it makes no difference how we discover family."

In an interview with Dr. Akkai Padmashaali, Nico Pablo of Ashoka Philippines urged families to "question gender expectations and norms" and begin talks between families that have adopted the new gender paradigm and those who have not.

Ila, an Ashoka Young Changemaker, explains how families' mindsets are changing:

"Girls were thought to have no need for higher education because they always ended up in the kitchen." This is the attitude we aim to shift. We want the new generation's mothers to be women. "Women who will shape the future of this country."

Young people have the potential to make the world a better place. This generation will develop a vision, form a team, and tackle challenges in novel ways.

4. Men and boys, too, have a role to play.

Men are not only "part of the conversation," but also "a vital part of the solution" when it comes to addressing gender disparity, according to Cheryl Chen, Director of CSR, Asia Pacific, S&P Global. To make progress, males can take on new tasks – for example, wives can take on more housework and childcare, and top managers can recruit or promote more women to high leadership positions.

Patriarchy is harmful to everyone, not just women. We must confront the stigmatisation of men as a result of patriarchal beliefs. Uninhibited, an organisation that attempts to de-stigmatize menstruation in India, was founded by Dilip Pattubala on the belief that young boys and men need to be educated and take the lead in de-stigmatizing matters relating to the human body. "Men, too, have a lot of intersectional disadvantages," he realised, which needed to be addressed. This is only possible if we demolish power systems and work together to power solutions.

5. Social transformation must be scaled in all directions.

Solutions that can reach everyone and anyone are the key to success. "We must expand wide, deep, and out" as we promote a new gender paradigm, says Ashoka Leadership Group Member and Founder of ADEA, Iman Bibars.

Scaling "broad" necessitates a shift in policies, "deep" scaling necessitates a shift in mindsets, and "scaling out" necessitates a shift in debates inside and across society.

Women social entrepreneurs strive toward inclusive communities along multiple "socio-cultural sensitivities and fault lines," according to Ashoka's research in collaboration with S&P Global Foundation. Women social entrepreneurs have progressed to the next level. The attention now needs to shift to policy changes and a shift in the larger debate.

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Fellow of the Ashoka Foundation PESADA was founded by Dina Lumbantobing on the belief that "we need women who can organize for economic and political progress." She's starting women's credit unions that aren't only about saving money, but also about empowering women to be changemakers and engage with local leaders to achieve greater gender equality.

The change we require is massive. It is, nonetheless, doable. Many of our deep-rooted problems are being addressed by changemakers who are attempting to shift mindsets and chip away at patriarchal structures. Everyone has a significant role to play in changing the gender order on a worldwide basis.

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