As the end of March is already here, I wanted to discuss some of the themes I explored as part of Gender Equality month. I researched different organisations that are fighting gender inequality by exploring common issues that affect different genders. Despite the work for gender equality month wrapping up, the organisations I have mentioned in this article work year round to support the struggles of different people and I would recommend checking out the campaigns or events they are running in the near future.
I gained a lot of knowledge this month through events I have attended and the work the SA has done. I wanted to share these experiences with students and staff at City of Glasgow College.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions and economic instability have changed our daily lives. Due to existing inequalities between men and women, gender roles have begun to revert back to old-fashioned ideals.
It has already been highlighted that there are many ways in which women have been negatively impacted against.
- Additional pressures have been made for women to prioritise childcare over work
- Women disproportionately work in less secure, low paid jobs such as the essential front lines
- Women are more likely to be the ones to look after older or disabled relatives and neighbours
The Fawcett Society have been focussing on the injustices that women have faced throughout the pandemic. Their #makewomenvisible campaign aims to research how restrictions have changed the lives of women and caused for the clock to turn back on gender equality. They are calling for the government to act and ensure that as the restrictions ease up, women will not be left behind in fear of unemployment or dependency.
Mental health is something that is more commonly being spoken about, in schools, colleges and workplaces. It is being taken more seriously and is becoming as important as physical health. This is valuable progress as the more it is mentioned, the less of a stigma mental health issues become. Sadly however male suicide rates throughout the years haven’t improved. In 2019, the number of official suicides were nearly 6,000, with men accounted for ¾ . This is incredibly worrying, especially when considering how tough lockdown restrictions have been even a year later.
One risk factor that can contribute to this, is the outdated notion that men must “bottle up” their feelings. Men often feel they must act tough and not show emotion as a sign of weakness. This is actually an incredibly damaging social construct that begins from childhood right up into adult life.
Andy’s man club is a charity organisation that supports men to open up and talk about their feelings, to break the stigma and support those who are struggling. “You’ve either been through a storm, are currently in a storm or have a storm brewing in your life”
They host clubs across the UK to support men in local communities as well as tackling the stigma through online campaigns.
Transgender and non-binary
People who are transgender perceive themselves as a gender different to the sex they were assigned at birth. People who are non-binary do not perceive themselves to necessarily fit into the binary of male or female at all, the term non-binary can include a wide range of gender expressions and fluidity. These are not lifestyle choices, it comes down to brain chemistry and identity expression.
There are amazing organisations such as Mermaids or LGBT Youth Scotland, that support young people coming to grips with gender dysphoria, can provide advice and to help those on their journeys to become their true self. However, it is undeniable that there are challenges still facing transgender and non-binary people today, so how can you be an ally?
One way that you can stand in solidarity with the community is to disclose your pronouns. Pronouns are an important part of conversation both online and in real life when speaking to someone who is transgender or non-binary, it may be upsetting or offensive to use incorrect pronouns. The most common pronouns are -
- She/her for someone who identifies as a woman
- He/him for someone who identifies as a man
- They/Them for someone who does not feel comfortable being described as a woman or a man. Often non-binary people may use this pronoun.
It is becoming a much more common practise for employees in workplaces or even students to disclose their pronouns when they sign off an email. Regardless of who you are, the more people who disclose their pronouns, the less stigmatised it becomes and makes it easier to know how people want to be addressed. Think of it the same as when people describe themselves as Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr.
You can make this less stigmatised by disclosing your pronouns on social media bios, when you sign off emails or ask someone what their preferred pronouns are when you meet them. It’s important for cis-gendered people to also make the effort to ensure they are being inclusive in their language.