'Strength in numbers and unity in strength...'

All Woman

INTERNATIONAL Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated March 8 under the theme #PressforProgress, and women right across the globe are joining the action call.

The theme is a follow-up to last year's theme which encouraged women to #BeBoldForChange, and which continues to encourage communities to think, act and be gender-inclusive.

But despite the force and magnitude of outspoken and powerful women who have boldly taken centre stage advocating for change in movements like #metoo, or who are championing causes of equity and gender parity while disrupting the constructs of stereotypes and bias, there are many women, some from girlhood, who feel less powerful and less bold.

What specific areas do Jamaican women feel helpless about not seeing changes in? How are powerful women using their power position/influence/social media to push for improvements in the lives of other women? And how important is it for women to lift the cause of other women as they climb? All Woman reporter Kimberley Hibbert explores.

HOW important is it, as we #PressforProgress, for women to support other women?

Dr Dalea Bean, lecturer in the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, says it is crucial for women to support other women, and the women's movement in Jamaica is testament to that.

“There's a long history of women's groups and women's organisations which do just that — support women in terms of economic empowerment, political empowerment and social empowerment,” she said.

“There's strength in numbers and unity in strength. There are specific issues in the country that are related specifically to the place of women and the status of women. Women really need to unite around these issues of commonality, so that representation can be made at the highest level to impact change.”

Dr Bean further stated that it is also important for men to support what is often termed 'women's issues', as those things affect all people.

“If you don't have safe spaces for women, if women are not economically empowered, these things affect our families and our children,” she said.

'Behind every great woman, there are great women'

Cortia Bingham, CEO of We Inspire Limited, added her voice: “A girl or woman's self-identity and assuredness is dependent on the support of other women who she sees herself similar to, so we need to propagate this culture more.

“I recently saw a quote by Jaclyn Johnson which states, 'Behind every great woman there are great women', [and] I agree. If more women would only understand that we are all connected, their actions towards other women would be more conscientious. Our actions are constantly in motion, because every action affects another woman or girl, and that woman or girl could be our daughter, mother, sister or girlfriend. As a mother, I am deliberate about giving applause and encouragement to women who transmit positivity, as I am aware of how cyclical life is, and my desire is to ensure that my own daughter is a beneficiary of my good works,” Bingham said.

She added: “There is no lack, but most of us believe that when we occupy a space, the very presence of another woman is a threat. This belief manifests in animosity and sometimes fist fights over a man, a job, a promotion, and the list goes on. Let us recognise that we are truly a mirror of the problem if we maliciously detract from another woman's success or happiness. If the question was asked, 'How many women have been hurt by other women?', the resounding answer of #MeToo would change the origins of the now popular campaign which speaks to men who sexually harass women.”




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