THE PERCH - Youth Friendly Centre

By NANDI JANI

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are affected.

Benjamin Franklin

A battle has been going on for over two millennia. This particular battle though is quite different from those we are used to of bombs, guns raids and bloodshed. In this battle, only one side is fighting while the opponent is blissfully unaware or just indifferent. But unlike other battles, in this war there is no heads we win and tails you lose, with one side emerging victorious and the other losing. In this conflict, if one wins then the other also wins. Likewise if one side loses, then both sides also suffer loss. With such strange scenarios, one can indeed be forgiven in assuming that this is not really a war at all but alas it really is one. The struggle that the female sex of the human species has been going through trying to get recognition from the world (in this case, world really just means their male counterparts) with the men seemingly remaining frustratingly aloof to their challenges. Unfortunately, as women make up half if not slightly more of the human population, what they to realize is that difficulties for women affect the whole human race and ultimately them. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Gender Gap Report, female labour participation has been a major driver for the growth of the European economy the past decade while Asia and the Pacific lose an estimated US$42-47 billion dollars due to limited women’s access to employment opportunities. What women are really asking for when they talk about equality at the workplace is recognition of their own particular brand of productivity. Productivity that while different from that of men is not necessarily inferior. What women are really saying is to stop the stereotypical labels of bossy, aggressive, abrasive, emotional and irrational when describing women who are making a successful impact in their respectively careers while their male counterparts are described with more positive adjectives like strong, successful and decisive when they exhibit those same characteristics.

Globally women do three times the amount of unpaid work, according to the International Monetary Fund. 75% of the world’s unpaid work is done by women, spending between 3-6 hours on it compared to the 30 minutes men spend. The World Bank estimates that women in Uganda work an average of 15 hours a day compared to men’s 9 hours. While ‘science’ advises that we shouldn’t work more than 40 hours a week, coupled with the unpaid work, women are working way over time. What women are really saying is that, while men put in the 9 to 5 work hours and still manage to be able to watch that football match, have that beer or even play that game, someone (a woman) is taking care of the children, doing the domestic chores, taking care of that sick relative and all those messy unpaid chores that men for some reason deem unfit for them but still enable them to get on with their jobs. Unpaid work which while economists agree makes up a large percentage of GDP some estimates say US10 trillion dollars (a very large sum) but because it takes too long and is complex to collect data for was largely ignored intentionally. What women are really saying is that this same important but yet ignored unpaid work is also affecting their health, literally killing some of them, impacting how much they can participate in the so called important paid work sector (when an a child goes sick suddenly, the mother is ‘expected’ to leave all else and attend to it and many other such scenarios which take time from women) and ultimately how many women can become executives. What women are really saying is that, men are able to become top executives because they don’t have to do most of this work while most women are hindered because of it not because of an inherent lacking on the part of the female sex.

Female authored papers are accepted more or rated higher under double-blind review (when both the writer and review are unidentifiable) according to a 2016 journal article. An analysis found that female scholars are cited as male due to the practice of just using initials in academic writing. To add on to this, journalists frequently refer to a male contributor as the lead author when it is really the female author. What women are really saying is how many more exceptional works are attributed to men when it should be a woman who gets recognition? What women are really saying is how much of the popular notion that women are less intelligent than men can be attributed to such biases as these and that women instead of being less smart than men just have most of their work ignored, misappropriated or just subjected to biased reviews due to their sex?

Yentl Syndrome describes a phenomenon when women are misdiagnosed or poorly treated unless their symptoms or diseases conform to those of men (definition from the book, Invisible women by Caroline Criado Perez). Despite its many advances, medical studies are based on the male anatomy by default with sex differences brought by the female anatomy largely ignored. Even in disaster management after wars or during conflict, the planners (mostly men themselves) fail to account for gender disparities which is unfortunate as women suffer even more than men after and during such events. It is even more unfortunate when there are female refugees being raped in those camps that they are supposed to be safe due to failure of responsible authorities to provide separate facilities, toilets and even showers to those of men. These are just a few of the many different problems that are a regular occurrence to many different women worldwide. Problems which greatly incapacitate women in different ways.

What women are really saying is how many of the so called insolvable problems in the world could have been solved or could be solved by including women’s perspective? What women are really