What we still have is a monocular, educated corporate American perspective to define and address the global phenomenon of gender inequality.
By Dr. Jude Smith Rachele, Co-founder & CEO, Abundant Sun
It is commendable that Sheryl Sandberg is using her power effectively to bring the discussion about women in the workplace out in the open through her book Lean In.
However, her suggestion for women to improve their careers by working smarter not harder, doesn't have the universality to apply to all. And is her call for men to speak up truly inclusive?
I believe her argument lacks two epic considerations: racial and cultural differences.
Sandberg’s perspective, while undeniably necessary for many working women in corporate America, does not take into consideration the millions others who do not share her experiences. These women live very different lives from hers – and some of her strategies could even backfire if applied by them.
Race and Gender
Then there's the article Leaning in While Black, which outlines the differences in acculturation between White and Black women. It addresses the fact that some women have a double challenge to overcome stereotypes and prejudices in order to succeed. While this article helps to broaden out the discussion to include a consideration of the interchange between gender and race, it doesn’t fully satisfy.
What we still have is ultimately a monocular, educated corporate American perspective to define and address the global phenomenon of gender inequality. Such a perspective masks a major root cause of gender inequality: violence against women.
Violence Against Women: A Global Challenge
Even in a global economy, violence against women is an age old and still a time-honored tradition in many cultures, and one of the major barriers to women having access to opportunities. When a large majority of the world’s population is female and does not have access to education and basic human rights, how are they supposed to ‘lean in’, and what are they supposed to be leaning into?
If we’re going to define actions to improve gender equality within global business and society, then we need to simultaneously focus on embedding more women on boards and uplifting the voices of those who are not privy to the corporate debate.
To this end, as part of its commitment to equality and human rights and its drive to fulfil its corporate social and moral responsibility, Abundant Sun is hosting a charity event, Energizing Women and Strengthening Societies to support Make Every Woman Count [MEWC], a platform for African women and girls and a voice for those who have largely gone unheard. Unlike many organizations working toward women’s rights, MEWC seeks to strengthen the voices of African women and girls so that they can take the lead on Africa’s social, political and economic development.
Energizing Women and Strengthening Societies will highlight the necessity of an inclusive approach to understanding, discussing and solving gender inequality concerns by consolidating gaps, which may exist between groups of women, between women and men, and between cultures.
We will also use the occasion to host the U.K. premier screening of the documentary Dark Girls, and use this as a vehicle for education, dialogue and action.
Dark Girls is a documentary that explores the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color, particularly dark-skinned Black-American women outside of and within the Black American culture. It tells the story of the tension between race, skin color and gender that people experience. Shot in 2012, the movie premiered on U.S. television via Oprah’s OWN on June 23,2013, validating that a professionally facilitated discussion of the issues will be of tremendous value.
D. Channsin Berry (co-producer/co-director of Dark Girls), Rainatou Sow (founder and executive director of Make Every Woman Count) who was voted on of the Top 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa for 2012, and Dr. Rob Berkeley (Director of the Runnymede Trust) will be the panel members for our post-film discussion forum where we will post questions to our audience and panel members, such as:
- How widespread is this issue of colorism?
- What can we do to reverse the negative effects of gender discrimination?
- How can we safeguard young people from perpetuating the same ill?
- What are people doing actively to help heal the wounds of gender and race discrimination?
Mindfully Closing The Global Gender Equality Gap
Our vision is a global one. The mission of Energizing Women, Strengthening Societies is to encourage our audience to take time to grapple with and discuss some of the bigger prickly faces of gender inequality and its impact on us all as global citizens. Through the forum, we want to promote greater understanding that:
- Different women have different barriers, which may prevent them from succeeding professionally.
- Racism clearly exists within the black community as a consequence of classification systems used in the time of slavery.
- Racism between races and sexism are still key components of many societies and business institutions and needs to be addressed in an honest light in order to improve outcomes.
- Colorism exists in cultures outside of the African-American community.
- We are ultimately looking at different forms of prejudice and discrimination, which can have a negative impact upon anyone who is judged as being of lesser value because of some characteristic or trait.
- Businesses and global citizens have a responsibility to extend a hand to empower women of Africa and the African Diaspora and help them overcome gender inequality.
- Global citizenship of individuals and corporations helps our global economy.
And seek to:
- Develop a capacity to develop empathy towards others who are disadvantaged
- Promote future grassroots opportunities to support other Dark Girls in places like India and Thailand in a bid to promote global gender equality, not just gender equality in the Boardroom.
- Examine how we can use modern technology to advance education and improve social justice outcomes for traditionally marginalized groups.
This is an event, which is driven by moral obligation and serves as a call to action as well as a desire to catalyze collective support for a subject relevant to us all. We're happy that CSRwire is a sponsor…you can be one too. Or participate in the dialogue and promote the beginning of a universal movement.
Learn more about corporate and individual sponsorship opportunities. To make a contribution to the Make Every Woman Count Campaign, visit here. To attend the event, please purchase tickets here.