Trigger Warning: This page may contain information relating to someone's gender inequitable experiences including suicides. This may be triggering to readers with similar experiences.

This submission is part of the Expressions of Gender Equity art project - a 2021 International Women's Day initiative. We thank all artists who responded to our artistic briefs and are honoured to showcase their work.

Do You Speak Up About Gender Inequity?

The theme for 2021 International Women’s Day was Choose To Challenge. But we all know it is not easy to challenge gender inequity. We here at Resilient Leadership Academy thought it would be interesting to actually ask people to share the reasons why they, at times, choose not to challenge a gender inequitable situation.

So what did people say in the survey that we conducted?

Well, we should not be surprised to learn that fear is the top reason that stops people from speaking up and challenging gender inequity.

Feeling powerless to effect change is another reason followed by self doubt and simply a lack of know-how.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in our survey, ask yourself “Do I avoid speaking up and challenging gender inequity?” If the answer is yes, what are your reasons?

What Can We Do About it?

It is tough, but we do believe we can all work on building our ability to better recognise and speak up about gender inequity in the future.

Here are some of our suggestions:

The fear associated with challenging gender inequality is real.

It was the number 1 reason given by our survey respondents that contributed to our decision not to challenge gender inequity.

So fear is real and we should not discount it. But we have found that if we understand our purpose and our why, very often we can find the courage to stand up to inequality.

It is that “life is larger than one individual” perspective that empowers us to #ChooseToChallenge.

🔴 The task is enormous.
🔴 The challenge is scary.
🔴 The goal seems unattainable.

No wonder we feel powerless at times when trying to advocate for gender equity.

Can we do something about this powerless feeling that we experience?

Studies have shown that surrounding yourself with allies is one way to ensure you don’t feel alone in this fight.

Is it easy to find allies? Not at all. But they do exist.

Let’s keep our eyes open and actively seek out those amazing human beings who can empower us and keep us going when we are feeling down.

Repeat after us, ALLIES EXIST.

To all the allies out there, make yourself easily spotted. Reveal yourself !!!

Okay, let’s face it. There are times we simply are alone in our quest for gender equity.

✅ Yes, we have been looking for allies to support us.
✅ Yes, we have asked for more resources.
✅ Yes, we have been creative and resourceful.

😭 But it is just not working.

🔴 Perhaps where we work is simply too toxic or rigid for us to effect change.
🔴 Perhaps there are no allies where we are.
🔴 Maybe we need a break so we can recharge and continue our advocacy.

So we do have to recognise when we need to move on, because self-care is incredibly important when doing advocacy work.

Moving on is not always easy or possible. There are financial security, market stability, timing and many other factors to consider.

But even if we cannot move on from where we are immediately, we can always begin our preparation.

So in order to stay empowered and continue to #ChooseToChallenge gender inequity, sometimes we have to move on.

They say knowledge is power.

Not only lack of knowledge increases our risk of being exploited, it also means we cannot reflect on our own conduct in the gender equity space. After all, unconscious bias strikes when we are unconscious about it.

Equipping ourselves with the right knowledge, therefore, is absolutely crucial in the fight for gender equity. If you are looking for some free e-resources, here they are:

🔴 Implicit Association Test from Project Implicit helps us learn to identify unconscious gender biases, which may influence our attitudes and behaviour.

🔴 Google Unbiasing Guide: This training module from re:Work was developed by Google to educate employees on how to recognise and manage unconscious bias.

🔴 Microsoft Bias eTraining aims at improving individual and corporate awareness about unconscious biases and their effect on workplace diversity.