We need to recognise and acknowledge that gender is important...
JSP Founder spoke with Minda Aligned partner, facilitator and coach Nick Bennett about #balanceforbetter and his thoughts on gender in our modern world.
IWD’s theme this year is balance for better and is calling for a more gender-balanced world. How do you think we can achieve this? Is it possible?
In responding to this I needed to bring it into the perspective of the environment that I live in i.e. Western Democratic, culturally diverse, relatively peaceful. If I look out into the world to answer this question my answer is “No” it is not possible given the current global view on women and their place in society in the heavily populated arenas of Eastern, Middle Eastern and East Asian countries where predominant religion and political apathy for change has hold and patriarchy in both politics and religion prevent and resist that change from occurring. The weight of numbers works against that change.
In our own environs (Australia/NZ/Pacifica) progress has evolved from revolution to evolution, from “Come on Ma, burn your bra” and extremism (necessary at the time – 60s -) to a grounded and gentler persistent feminism where women are the innovators and creators of change. We are dogged by male gender bias in language, politics and masculinity that embraces “blokes being blokes” that needs to change much further before we get to the ideal; a world where respect is given and gender is irrelevant, where education, work opportunities, career progression and life choices are focused on individual growth equality and equity, regardless of what you are in gender either male, female, LGBGTI or non-specific.
Women have many weapons with which they can wield power for change and force paternalism to heel. In that I include withdrawal of sex, withdrawal of service en masse and demonstration. These activities would need to be organised and orchestrated at critical times in the political rotation (near elections) to force conservative thinking into change spaces.
We are heading into an era of movements and activism, calling for more balance in the world; as a leader in our community is this an important way to have women’s voices heard and make changes a reality or is there another way?
This started well in advance and history must be acknowledged. The women who pushed for the vote – first in NZ and then in South Australia before the rest of the country capitulated – started what needed to happen. The current activism is actually quite mild compared to the turn of last century and most certainly the 60’s. Perhaps it is not a matter of this is “the” way. It is one of many ways that can be used to bring balance into the conversation and can be a catalyst to challenge those in powers limited and biased view. It is important to me that we recognise and acknowledge that gender is important and we need each other to play our roles in creating and improving society and community. It is not a matter of losing gender identity but claiming it and knowing what it means as a value and contribution to enhancing others existence, opportunities and lives.
Who are the leading ladies in your life? What makes them strong, brave, resilient and role models?
My wife first and foremost – her gentle strength, curiosity and compassion, my mother – a genuine pioneer in this space (now passed), my sisters for their independence and many of my clients for the balance they bring as they build change within their organisations.
Why is International Women’s Day important for women living and contributing to the Mackay and Greater Whitsunday region?
While some men may disavow or are ignorant due to the environments that they have been exposed to or situation they have grown up in, there is still a strong need for this conversation to exist. I personally would be delighted when we have a World Gender Day and celebrate everyone equally. Until then I will continue to quietly champion the change of behaviour in men needed to get to that point.