You might ask yourself: ‘What do men have to do with gender equality?’ There is this widespread assumption that gender equality is solely about women. This might be due to the majority of men, who often think that gender equality is just an ethical imperative, something that is right and good to fight for.
Michael Kimmel called this attitude by men towards gender equality ‘premature self-congratulation’ in his TEDWomen talk. It’s almost like a syndrome where men say ‘Thanks for bringing this to our attention, ladies, we’ll take it from there’. However, what most men and women forget is that there are also men who genuinely support gender equality.
Benefits of gender equality
Gender equality is not only good for countries – countries that are most gender equal score the highest on the happiness scale – but is also beneficial for businesses. Indeed, the more gender-equal companies are, the happier the workforce is, lowering levels of attrition, increasing job satisfaction and raising rates of productivity. Yet, what most people forget is that gender equality is also good for men.
New generation of men
Men of this generation have changed tremendously. Not only do they want to build active and committed relationships with their children but they also expect their partners to follow their ambitions and pursue a career.
Michael also mentioned in his talk that once men share housework and childcare, their partners are happier. This seems obvious, but what seems less obvious is that both partners become healthier: women feel less depressed and are more likely to go to the gym, men smoke and drink less. So when men and women share childcare and housework, both end up being happier, who wouldn’t want that?
Who doesn’t want their countries to be happy? Who doesn’t want companies to flourish? Who doesn’t want their partners to be healthy and balanced? Gender equality shouldn’t be seen as a black and white thing, as a win-lose situation when it is so obvious that it is a win-win situation for everyone. Essentially, we cannot fully empower women and girls if we don’t engage men and boys as well.
To see the full story, watch this TED talk by Michael Kimmel.
Text by: Jennifer Drouin