Gender mainstreaming is not the destination but rather a journey. One that requires all of us to partake in. Gender equality has been a challenge for decades, with Sub-Saharan countries coming out tops in numbers of gender inequality statistics. However, there have been improvements, with more and more initiatives aiming to help promote equality of all genders in all sectors. With these improvements come challenges that these countries still face. In this article, we take a look at some of the factors that hinder gender mainstreaming and possible solutions to a better future.
Grassroots Need Watering
Female representation in growing roles across different industries and sectors begins with educating young people in preparation for the future. Take the hospitality industry; until recently, it was not possible to have access to as much affordable accommodation as we do on apps such as Airbnb. Technology has improved how we make doctors appointments, banking is changing, and more. All these need the contribution of skilled professionals regardless of their gender, and when little girls are given access to opportunities, this helps us get there. The transport sector is another huge example of growth in the industry, involving more and more women in driving roles and logistics businesses and creating a new route to gender mainstreaming. However, safety and security remain the biggest challenges in offering women the opportunity to work in the industries they are passionate about. Most Sub-saharan countries are trying to create safe spaces for women and girls to be; however, there are outside industries that need to be well-equipped to keep women safe.
Each One Teach One
A study by the Education Sub Saharan Africa initiative, which aims to connect African children to education opportunities, noted that the majority of existing literature on education and gender focuses on primary and secondary school education. The smaller amount of existing data about universities and colleges shows the huge gender gap. Currently, 7.19% of women are enrolled in universities and colleges in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the 10.41% of men enrolled. This is low compared to the global average for women, which is 41.66%. We can ensure more girls get the education they deserve by tackling some of the social issues they face.
In several Sub-Saharan countries, young girls are exposed to forced marriage, labour and entrepreneurship due to the lack of resources in those places. Another factor that plays into this is the restrictions that cultures and religions have on these girls. Once conversations are had regarding the lived experiences of these young girls and what these decisions made on their behalf without their say are damaging to them and the economy. This will help us cut through the barriers on the path to gender mainstreaming and socio-economic development.
In Closing, Is There Hope?
Studies have shown a change in gender compositions globally from emerging jobs in the last two years to be between 0.2% and 1.1%. It may appear small, but it is a step in the right direction that also reminds us that we have to start early in educating and supporting initiatives that provide education and training for young girls. One of the biggest changes has to be getting rid of stereotypes attached to women and girls and giving all genders a chance to prove that they are and can be involved in the ever-growing sectors. We can do it if we all play our part.