Introduction to Gender Justice
I recently completed a course on “Introduction to Gender Justice,” facilitated by Oxfam. Gender-justice discussions can be polarizing, and complex, especially in places laden with cultural assignments and events over time that have suggested roles for men and women. A simple example, the normalization of women seen primarily as caretakers and men as breadwinners.
On Twitter, Nigerian women have shared and debated misconstrued perspective of gender-based roles. Mostly, exposing that more women carry the burden of raising families as breadwinners. Although the reality is voiced less in social conversations, there exist evidence that gender restrictions is often the uptick of a grander issue, which begets violence.
While most of my scrutiny falls between the boundaries of Nigerian online arguments, there exist generalizations in the gap for gender-justice communication.
The conceptualization of the gender-justice term by (Gertz, 2007), who cognizant of the varied definitions and political implications defines gender-justice, as inequality faced by both men and women, but often results, in women’s subordination to men- articulates well the political stance I hold on gender-justice issues, which requires the responsibility of engaging in a strategic change that is all-inclusive.
Nevertheless, gender-based discussions rarely seek to discuss salient issues from a place of neutrality. Writing from the feminist standpoint, an appendage willfully accepted by the movement, are allies, men who try to encapsulate feminist thought and micro-manage that information into the male camp. But do allies really translate the angst from both camps cordially, especially when it relates to justice based issues?
The frustration between both camps, spurred by the gaps between ideals men have held over the years about their gender and the reality presented to them recently; between women’s right and female’s agency; between say no to rape and consent. As Frederick Douglass brilliantly posits, “between our highest ideals and our darkest realities.”
Gender restrictions are the uptick of a grander issue, which begets violence.
Despite the seemingly one-sided approach gender-justice advocacy have held, in favor of women, it also involves opening the conversation to include men who have gone through abuse. According to 1in6, there is evidence that shows at least 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused, as children or adults.
However, trivialization through language, jokes, or memes has made it difficult for men who face abuse to seek justice. The flaw in our societal grandstanding on gender issues has made gender-justice inequitable.
Yet, if we are to be accountable in a socially significant way, we need to advocate for gender-justice, in a way that both genders recognize any proven methodological approach as equitable.
Communication as a discourse in gender-justice recognizes the importance of connecting gendered articulations to broader practices and resource allocation. Due to the stiffness of narrative in gender-justice discussions, the criticisms and articulations are overly narrow. When narratives are woven in Neo-liberal settings, there is sometimes the missed opportunity to understand structures and norms that influence an individual’s decision. For example, a woman taking up her husband’s last name or choosing to keep hers.
Most communications or conversations, with women’s empowerment, eliminates the contextual consideration of everyday practice — forgetting we are woven with other identities and associations. According to Wilkins, communicating gender-justice means considering contrasting circumstances across men and women, accounting class, ethnicity and other power differences relevant to the context. For example, discussions would not only weigh in on the progress of women’s choices over time but also, if similar progress has occurred with men.
For us to attain gender-justice, those with Neo-liberal development and those with hegemonic approaches in the understanding of gender-based issues would need to reach across both divides. This stance would mean a robust view of actions and ideas, thereby achieving accountability based on mutual understanding.
Regardless, critical gender scholarship contributes to shifting the narratives in advocacy. However, despite people’s ideological leanings, (the Neo-liberal approach often resisted due to its privileged stance while the hegemonic approach often debated for its dominant view), it is pertinent that in pursuing gender-justice, we are not creating or perpetuating another form of inequity.
To further the discourse on gender-justice communications, here are a few things to pay attention to;
Let data guide you: For example, WHO estimates that approximately one out of every three women in the world has experienced some form of sexual violence (World Bank, 2014). There are also cases of female-gender mutilation (FGM), an estimate of 100–140 million FGM carried out within the African continent for purity purpose, and to what end, appeasing the male’s appetite. So whenever you’re aggrieved as to the constant funding and voicing of girl-child/women’s program or courses, think about this data.
The justification for the prominence of women’s rights in gender-justice discussions, hinges on data. The data which indicates that women are more likely to be victims of violence, excluded from jobs, disenfranchised in relationships based on their gender. So when you are disgruntled, about the bias in gender-justice conversations, think about data.
The vision of communicating gender justice involves recognizing the intersection of identities while acknowledging the differences in experience for each gender: Gender and sexuality is a close-knitted discourse that bares a fragile space in the deeply rooted cultural society that is Nigeria. However, for progress to be made in gender-justice communication, this discussion must be heard. Also, understand that when it comes to criminal justice in Nigeria, traditional laws have not provided lots of justice options for women. In addition to the system skewed to favor those with influence and power.
People have to learn and unlearn cultural tropes that prevent them from seeking justice towards abuse and human rights violation: Gender mainstreaming provides an opportunity to get both Neo-liberal ideas and hegemonic views on the same table and bridge gaps.
Improve your use of pronouns and language used to identify individuals: Exploring the language or communication of gender-justice, requires that we address the complexities within and across different ideologies.
In conclusion, despite gender equality being a means to understanding gender-justice, they are both different ideas. While the former advocates for the empowerment for one gender, the later seeks social justice. My idea is that the more everyone understands gender-justice, the easier it is to fight for gender equality.
My weekly article reviews will be back soon, and this is a think-piece.