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  • Denise Powers

Promoting Female Equality and Empowerment is “Nonsense Adding to the Divisiveness of Life”

If ever there was justification needed for my pursuit of equality and empowerment for women and girls and the development of Project Further, I received it in a presumably well-meaning email from a gentleman I know.

I have received such an incredible outpouring of support since I announced the establishment of Project Further and my intentions for it and I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to wish me well and congratulate me for taking this on.

But just because I have support from my inner circle, doesn’t mean the reason for such action doesn’t still exist. Because it does.

This is an excerpt from the man’s email to me:

“…I also applaud you doing whatever change in life makes you happy…. But I have absolutely no interest in the “empowerment of women.” Or of BLM, gender nonsense or anything else that adds to the divisiveness of life in the USA today. People are people – whether black, white, protestant, Jew, men, women or minors. We are all part of one big pie – not pieces of it.

I am sure there are injustices against women in the world – but not in the USA where over 65% of the wealth is female-controlled and divorce laws heavily slant against males. As is sexual entrapment.

The rampant rise in homosexuality is directly correlated to the rise in gender activism. As is the decline in marriage, and the willingness to have children and a family life.

Denise, work for the “empowerment” of all disadvantaged. Do not add to world divisiveness.”

That a patriarchal society, viewed through the lens of white privilege, continues to exist couldn’t be more clear, as evidenced by this email.

There is a great deal to unpack here, as to be fair, these are not uncomplicated issues. I will devote several blog posts to looking more closely at some of the issues around gender equality and empowerment and what it means, both in the developing and the developed worlds, to explore my understanding and knowledge as well as to pass that information on, so we all might be more empowered to do what is right when we are called upon to do it.

The United Nations has made gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls number five of their seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs). Their goal seems simple, written on a page: “full equality is where every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and where all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed.” That this is still considered an ambitious goal in 2021, saddens me to the point of anger and action.

(Photo credit: United NationsCC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Women and girls the world over must have equal rights and equal opportunity to express themselves, to be educated, to own property, to live lives free of violence and discrimination.

Former US president Jimmy Carter has said in many fora that he believes the world's biggest challenge today is gender inequality. The United Nations agrees: “gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”

So what is the extent of the issue here? Over the next few blog posts, I will examine the main areas discrimination against women and girls shows up:

1. Gender violence

2. Human rights violations

3. Income disparity

4. Representation

I want to stress that this is not an issue taking place only in ‘other countries and ‘we don’t have those issues here,’ (wherever ‘here’ might be). These things all take place in our backyards. But if we don’t know where to look or refuse to look, it might feel easier to say it is someone else’s problem. It is not.

We don’t need to go much further for evidence of this than today’s news. As at the time of writing, I have seen these stories.

August 3 2021 was ‘Equal Pay Day’ for Black women in the United States. This means that the average Black woman in America works until today (including her pay from 2020) to make what the average white male made in the calendar year 2020. That works out to 63 cents on the white male dollar. The salary discrepancy between white men and white women is 83 cents on the dollar. A little better, but still brutally behind.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has 11 allegations of sexual harassment lodged against him from past and current employees of his office, says a report issued today by the State of New York Office of the Attorney General. The allegations are disgusting, to say the least, ranging from inappropriate touching, kissing and ‘fun talk’, like asking one female colleague if she wanted to play strip poker and another if she was monogamous. The report introduction says this:

“… the Executive Chamber’s culture – one filled with fear and intimidation while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments – contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to exist and persist.”

Is this really what women need to put up with in the modern workplace?

And last week the Norweigan beach handball team was fined by the International Handball Association for wearing shorts, rather than the teeny weenie little bikini that is mandated in the rules of the sport as follows: “midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg and a maximum side width of 4 inches”. The men’s team wear shorts, with a restriction that they must not be longer than 4 inches above the knee. When is female sport going to be about athleticism and the games, and not about the objectification of the athletes?

So join me over the next few weeks as I do a deep dive into the four areas and open the debate on equality and empowerment of women in the world, and how do we achieve it? There will be no male-bashing here, that’s not what this is about. It is about exploring the ways we see the world and how we can work together to create a better future for women and girls everywhere.

What do you think? Do you agree with my acquaintance’s email? Or do you think we have work to do?


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