- In Burundi where fewer men work, fewer boys go to primary school and women live longer
- In Estonia where around 70% of graduates and professional/technical workers are women
- In Jamaica where women are twice as likely to go to university and nearly 50% more likely to be legislators, senior officials, and managers
- In Russia where men die 12 years sooner than women on average
- In Qatar where women are more that 6 times more likely to go to university
In all of these categories men are not categorized as being unequal, women are categorized as being MORE EQUAL and while the authors of the index claim to be ranking countries’ by their “proximity to gender equality” countries lose ranking points when women are unequal but don’t lose ranking points when men are unequal.
Once you realize that the table is about measuring women’s inequality and not gender inequality the third quirk is not surprising and that is this – the table doesn’t include measures where men show up universally as unequal such as suicide rates, risk of being a victim of violence, risk of addiction, risk of offending etc
And so my radical idea for TEDxLSE was simply this – what if, in the future, we measure both men and women’s inequality and when women are measured as being unequal we ask ourselves ‘why is that and what can we do about it?’ AND when men are measured as being unequal, we ask ourselves the same question ‘why is that and what can we do about it’?
And what if we were to do that in a way that wasn’t about MEN vs WOMEN trying to beat each other in a game of Gender Equality Top Trumps, but about MEN and WOMEN beating inequality together?
At the moment we don’t do this in the world of equality. Firstly when it comes to Gender Equality Top Trumps we don’t look to measure the inequalities that men and boys experience.
Secondly, when people highlight men’s inequalities we don’t respond to it in the spirit of other equality work. We don’t say “what is it that WE are doing, what are the barriers that men face and how can we help them do better?” No, we point the finger at men saying things like “why are men so rubbish at looking after their health?”
Thirdly, we have developed an unequal filter for viewing gender and through this filter we see a world when women HAVE problems and men ARE problems.
To make that real a health visitor recently told me she often encounters new parents with mental health concerns and she has several services to refer new mums to, but no services to refer new dads to.
No service for dad when he HAS a problem but lots of services for dad when he IS a problem – so if he’s hitting the bottle, hitting his partner or getting in fights and hitting strangers then we have special services for him them like perpetrator programmes, a programed for addicts or a prison cell.
And this is when, as an optimist, I need to remind myself of my belief that every man and woman can flourish and fulfill their potential. And I believe the journey to that vision starts with activists for equality relating to all people not as their problems, but as their potential to be great human beings.
And one of the biggest barriers I see in the word of gender equality is that while the argument that we should address women’s inequality has been made and won and work is being done (and there’s more to do) – the argument that we should address men and boys’ inequality has not been made and won which is why very little work is currently being done to address male inequality.
So I’d like to make the case a for action by outlining some measures of men and boys’ inequality which highlight why this work is so vital……………..click here to read part 3 now……….