“Women, you need to care for yourself to take care of others.” These words kicked me down a few days ago, while I reviewed an advertisement. As a young feminist in the Caribbean where there is a constant tug-of-war for gender equality, I am flabbergasted by the advertisment. We know the powers that digital media holds, why are we being this reckless? How is this communicating change for women who have been fighting for an equal place? Why approve advertisements that disseminate gender stereotypes?
Growing up in a small community in southwest Trinidad, my experience initially led me to believe women were to be the only nurturers in the world in which we exist. As I grew and exposed myself to the many avenues through which nurturing could be done, I immediately dispelled that notion. The advertisement however, in many ways slapped every effort of gender equality and women’s empowerment for which we have been fighting. Avoid misunderstanding my perspective; there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a nurturer. It is essential in any environment. However, what is troublesome is throughout our constant ‘development’ we still view women as caretakers predominantly within that arena.
Both men and women have the capability to be nurturers, let’s not further hinder the thought process of the upcoming generation by inciting that a woman’s sole role is to be someone who takes care of others. As women, we have endless capabilities to become just about anything we set our minds to. Let’s not expose our children to the assumption that women are only as good as taking care of someone else.
In 2019, it is in no way sensible to put our future generation of women at a disadvantage by brainwashing them into believing they are not made for more. Information on labour force participation rates within the Caribbean already presents deep concern in relation to gender disparity, with men highly active in the labour market while women are tasked with domestic jobs. Perpetuating stereotypes of women being the sole gender responsible for nurturing, as you can see, has the potential to lengthen the noted phenomena that need to be eliminated.
Daily re-evaluation on how we present women is an essential step in the right direction to afford our upcoming girls the chance to be who they want to be. How damaging and unfavourable gender inequality is, we must understand as a community. Women have the right to empowerment, the right to be employed in any position for which they are qualified, the right to equal pay rates, the right to flourish in any avenue of life they choose. Challenge yourself daily to embrace the only right thing there is and allow women the equal opportunity to be ourselves and not have us feel forced to fit within a template that was designed by the masses before. Women empowerment is everyone’s business.
Chanelle Beatrice, Media Analyst, Photographer, Writer
BA Journalism (Hons)