Gen­der dou­ble stan­dards still pre­vail

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDITOR, Sir: THE EX­EC­U­TIVE di­rec­tor of UN Women, Madame Phu­mile Mlambo Ngcuka, in the town­hall meet­ing held by UN Women and UWI Leads on Tues­day, high­lighted the im­por­tance of shift­ing cul­tural at­ti­tudes and bi­ases to­wards women as a part of any strat­egy to achieve sus­tain­able eco­nomic devel­op­ment. She also noted the sac­ri­fices women of­ten­times have to make re­gard­ing their fam­ily lives, in or­der to be taken se­ri­ously in the world of work and po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

The re­al­ity is that men hardly ever have to think about strik­ing the work-life bal­ance be­cause so­ci­ety deems them the bread­win­ners and women the home-mak­ers. These cul­tur­ally en­graved, un­even gen­der roles di­rectly im­pact the abil­ity of women to con­trib­ute equally to the econ­omy and equally par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic life.

There are other cul­tural norms that must be in­ter­ro­gated if we as a na­tion are se­ri­ous about achiev­ing Vi­sion 2030 and the global sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals (SDGs), par­tic­u­larly SDG 5 which re­quire Ja­maica to achieve gen­der equal­ity by 2030. We must, there­fore, look into the fact that women’s ca­pac­ity to ac­quire wealth is limited by a cul­tur­ally im­posed, gen­der­based ‘econ­omy of beauty’.

Women are held to higher stan­dards than men as it re­lates to their body im­age and de­port­ment. Women are of­ten times crit­i­cized and mocked for re­peat­ing their out­fits and not chang­ing their hair­styles. Many places of em­ploy­ment even re­quire women to wear un­com­fort­able heels at the work place daily and there is of­ten times an ex­pec­ta­tion that women will wear some layer of make-up.

While there are de­port­ment stan­dards for men, they are less strictly ap­plied and fail­ing to com­ply has a lesser im­pact on man’s em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The flip side of this is that women who spend on their beauty are con­sid­ered friv­o­lous and not se­ri­ous about work. The re­sult is that women in pub­lic life are forced to walk the thin line be­tween seem­ing too vain and seem­ing too plain. GLEN­ROY MUR­RAY Pol­icy & Ad­vo­cacy Man­ager, Equal­ity for All Foun­da­tion Pol­icy Of­fi­cer, WE-Change

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