Gender Equality: What Men Should Do & Why They Should Care
Updated: Nov 4, 2018
As you probably know, gender equality is one of the vitally important Global Goals which the UN encourages us to strive towards for sustainability. Back in 2004, the UN acknowledged the importance of promoting gender equality, not only as an issue for women, but for men too.
A later study by the European Commission took a closer look at practical ways that men can foster gender equality as well as why this would benefit men.
High cost of “traditional masculinity”
The traditional view that men have to be the “go-getters” in households and the business world not only disadvantages women, but also takes a toll on men. For example, the concept of power being an indicator of masculinity disadvantages the majority of men, who will be unable to rise to the few top positions.
Meanwhile, women get the lion’s share of unpaid work: caring for children, taking care of the household and tending the sick. Nowadays, women are often expected to do this along with a form of paid work, but they are often seen as less dedicated to their careers because they have other responsibilities. Possibly as a result of this, women in Australia earn less than men, while men are pushed to work longer hours, missing out on family life in the process.
Clearly, this state of affairs hurts men, who suffer from increased stress, a curtailed social life and isolation from their families.
Defining the tasks of providing financial support and caring for home and family as being predominantly male and female duties is not a sustainable situation. The European Commission suggests that caring and acting as provider are tasks that should apply to both men and women equally.
Up to a point, it seems that this process is happening naturally, albeit slowly. Surveys showed that most men feel that gender equality at home and in the workplace is important, and a majority report that they are more emotionally involved with parenting and spend more time with their children than their fathers did. They’re also more likely to help with chores and other unpaid work, but many say that there is insufficient recognition for the role of men as caregivers in the organizations where they work.
The way forward for an equal society
Changing deep-seated views of men is as important as changing perceptions of women in society today. Women are now co-breadwinners, and men are co-carers. This does not make them any less masculine or feminine, but the traditional “division of labor” remains an entrenched attitude. Employers may frown on a man who requests time off to attend to his children’s needs since they feel that this should be the responsibility of his wife. On the other side of the coin, women may be seen as less desirable employees since their home and family needs are seen as taking precedence.
As citizens of the world, we need to adjust our attitudes and expectations, allowing both men and women access to caring roles as well as professional ones. The results will be beneficial to all. Women will be able to progress with their careers more easily, and men will have greater access to their loved ones.