Empowering Men as Champions of Women’s Safety & Equality!

In this magnificent tapestry of humanity, WOMEN shine as the ‘Warriors of Magnanimous Empowerment and Nobility’, transcending mere gender distinctions with their innate strength that surpasses physical might. Their resilience, wisdom, and nurturing spirit weave an indomitable fabric of influence, uplifting not only themselves but also the entire world.

While delving deeper into the profound impact of womenfolk, it becomes imperative to confront the harsh reality challenging their safety, sanity and well-being.

Let’s Talk Data

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cases of crime against women in India have increased by 15.3% in the past year.
• The agency has registered 4,28,278 such incidents in 2021 as compared to 3,71,503 in 2020.
• Of all, 31.8% incidents were related to cruelty by relatives or husbands while 20.8% were assault intended to outrage a woman’s modesty.
Well, the figures are indeed alarming, but, frankly speaking, is the scenario too surprising?
Not really!

Rather, it once again emphasizes the exigent call to address the persisting vulnerabilities in our society and curate a world where the essence of humanity prevails over gender bias. In this pursuit of women’s safety, we have remained entangled only in empowering them to reclaim their rights. However, a significant piece of the puzzle has been inadvertently overlooked—i.e. the role of men in championing women’s safety.

As men are responsible for the majority of violence happening against females, their perspective and attitude are crucial, considering their direct influence on cultural and social norms.
The virtuous actions of men who can rise above those shadows of violence bear a massive transformative potential. Far from being bystanders or passive spectators, they demonstrate that power to protect and uplift knows no gender stereotypes.

How Can Men Contribute to Creating a Gender Inclusive Society?

Ensuring women’s safety and fostering gender equality necessitate a sustainable transformative shift in individuals’ behaviour and attitudes, extending beyond institutional and policy reforms. Lasting change would happen by empowering men with education and awareness.

You might be wondering, ‘Isn’t this statement irrelevant for them? After all, not every male is an aggressor who would harm a female at some point, right?’ Absolutely not! But, the fact is majority of the women aren’t aware of it. That’s the missing link.

As an ordinary man, here’s what ‘he’ can do for ‘her’:
a. When in public places, it’s important to maintain a sufficient distance with her instead of walking too close or just behind. This may otherwise inadvertently create a sense of threat. Leave ample space between yourself and her to promote a feeling of safety and comfort.

b. Refrain from walking behind a woman. Instead, consider crossing the road.

c. If your friend harasses a woman, even keeping quiet makes you a part of the wrongdoing. So, speak up against such behaviour and actively discourage any form of harassment to create a culture of respect and safety for everyone.

d. Sometimes, people unmindfully stare at others when they are by themselves, which is extremely daunting and uncomfortable in case of a woman. Instead, practice respectful behaviour by avoiding prolonged or intrusive gazes and maintaining focus on your own surroundings. This simple gesture shows consideration while making women feel more secure and respected.

e. Passing comments isn’t funny. It often objectifies a woman and is extremely disrespectful. Hence, choose to be mindful of your words and the impact they can have on others, including women.

f. Step up as a proactive bystander. If you observe a woman feeling uneasy for someone’s conduct, show solidarity by taking action. Restrict the aggressor by creating a physical barrier between him and her. Or, support anyone else stepping in to address the situation.

Gender Equality Is Not A Women’s Issue Only

We need to understand that gender equality is not a women’s issue but a human concern. Overall, men have a great responsibility to contribute to creating a gender inclusive society. As beacons of hope, they can introduce some specific practices in their day-to-day lives:

1. Extend a listening ear to women’s voices
The foremost step is to be open towards women’s perspectives and voices. Dismantle all such barriers that hinder progress and create a safe space where she can share her experiences, desires and challenges without being downplayed. Listening with genuine empathy and sincerity allows men to gain valuable insights into the realities faced by women, enabling them to become allies and advocates for gender equality.

2. Refrain from using gendered practices
Consciously or unconsciously, people often use gendered language or behaviours. For instance, saying ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘girls should be nurturing’ promote biases. Instead, opt for neutral and empowering statements which don’t reinforce stereotypes. Make conscious changes in your choice of language or behaviour so that it respects everyone’s unique identity and authenticity. Encourage individuals to pursue their careers based on their passion and interests, and not gender.

3. Foster a culture of gender inclusivity in workplaces
Workplaces should have a gender inclusive environment where perspectives, values and ideas from all employees are respected, irrespective of him or her. Here are some statistics to highlight:
• Harvard Business Review published a research work which revealed that gender equality has the potential to contribute to the global GDP a staggering $13 trillion by 2030. In light of this significant economic impact, companies must actively motivate women’s participation in the workforce and unlock their untapped potential to drive economic growth.

In our endeavour for equality, prioritizing a gender-neutral attitude becomes paramount. At Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s International Men’s Day 2022 celebration, participants unequivocally emphasized the joint responsibility of both men and women in achieving gender equality. While the spotlight continues to shine upon women’s empowerment, men need to acknowledge their transformative potential too so that both stand united in safeguarding one another.

About The Author

Madhuparna Paul Jana is a seasoned content writer with an academic foundation in journalism and mass communication. She has been actively involved in public relations and diverse social awareness events. A resolute advocate of feminism, she strives to dismantle the chains of gender bias and mistreatment, and recognize every individual’s inherent humanity above everything else.

Image Credit: Dribble.com