When World Pulse WWA Project Manager, Tenzing Gyatso emailed us of Intel’s ‘Learn Easy Steps’ training of May 25th- 27th, 2016 and asked if I’d be available to introduce participants to the World Pulse platform, I jumped at the offer.
I had not known this empowering community of women only a few years ago, but since 2013 when I joined, World Pulse has played a big role in my life and career, so that when I speak about it, I speak from my heart. I speak my truth.
In the lead-up to the first day, Tenzing was kind enough to send a manual for the training. I had prepped for the training with this manual and had, mistakenly, assumed that I would be speaking with a group of young girls and women, after all, the project is tagged ‘She Will Connect’.
A big departure from my assumptions stared us in the face when, fellow World Pulse sister, Mrs. Praise Aramide Oikelome and I got to Intel’s Ikoyi office. The shock was a departure from girls to women. And, men!
The audience were middle-aged librarians with a PhD thrown into the mix. Talk about a training shock!!!
Strategies and tact for engagement had to be changed if effective communication was the aim.
My opening gambit of introducing myself as an advocate for women and girls rights could have registered a minus 7.8 on the Righter Scale. But I kept going anyway.
Upon gentle probing, a male trainee broke the dam of defensive posturing, ‘Why only women and girls?’ Instinctively, I felt the need to go on the defensive. I had to deliver the standard answers repeated ad infinitum over the years when I am confronted with such a question but I needed to bring them into my and World Pulse world. And, I set off on this quest with statistics that fail to reverberate with humanity.
In answering, I enumerated to the group some takeaways from SDG 5 and other facts:
- 143 out of 195 countries’ constitution guarantees equality between males and females but in practice, most do not mean equal opportunities;
- because women and girls experience marginalization and discrimination even before they are born; because girls are still 90% victims of foeticide;
- because girls are 15% more likely to be raped before her 12th birthday;
- because teenage pregnancy is still responsible for girls dropping out of schools;
- because girls are still victims to harmful cultural practices (FGM, Breast Ironing, Widowhood Rites);
- because 133 million women and girls have suffered FGM in countries where it is common;
- because over 70% of domestic violence cases are still against women;
- because over 95% of world leaders today are still men;
- because only four countries of the world have women in the majority as leaders;
- because when women and girls are empowered, they can contribute meaningfully to their families, communities and the world;
- because even when a girl miraculously survives all these she may still be underpaid though she works more than her male colleagues;
- because a world that neglects half its population is not sustainable.
World Pulse understands the challenges women and girls face. And, World Pulse seeks to make our world better and more inclusive by acknowledging the age-old injustices that has been meted out to women historically. World Pulse realises that the most effective way to do that is by giving women a voice and a safe space to use that voice.
This much was told the assembled women and men.
Needless to say, the feedback was outstanding, with women and men signing up on World Pulse instantly. Most of the men promised to share the exciting news about World Pulse with their wives, and other females in their lives.
I encouraged them to share with both women and men.
World Pulse recognizes men as allies in promoting women’s rights and access and unless men realise women’s rights are human rights and it’s in their best interest to join the fight to uphold it, we may not get the desired result.
Afterwards the immensity of some of my recited facts hit me. I could not help wondering why I had to justify my choice of profession in the first place and why women’s suffering is the basis upon which World Pulse is born.
Does anyone ask why only boys, a preponderance replicated across the globe, when scouts comes looking for young players? Does anyone ask why only men when political parties ‘select’ their party nominees? Who has ever asked why only men when the Supreme Court still has a majority of male judges on its bench?
'Planet 50: 50 by 2030' will remain a mirage if we keep questioning why women and girls should be equal partners in any civilised setting!
That I still need to – defend these reasons- is proof that the world desperately needs World Pulse and the supports it gives women.