NICARAUGA NEWS — MANAGUA, coordinator for the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, Hazel Brown, says women must be willing to take on leadership positions, but must have zero tolerance against discrimination, inequity and corruption in public life.
“It is necessary for more women to take up the challenge of becoming leaders; inspired transformational leaders who value equality, equity non-violence caring, cooperation, service, transparency, zero tolerance for corruption in public life,” she said.
Brown was speaking about the implications for gender inequality for a country’s development at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) 14 Reunion of Civil Society held in Managua, Nicaragua, on October 22 and 23, 2014.
The NGO head has advocated for women in leadership for over three decades, riding on her agency’s slogan “Put a Woman”.
Brown insists that it is the power of women’s leadership that will hold wonderful potential for change in how a society does business and also in their contributions to global and regional economic recovery and the development of people.
However, “the unfortunate reality is that women are still not regarded as equal to their male counterparts. They are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, while violence against women and girls continues to rise,” Brown told the gathering.
Her argument is that, while there are women who are leaders and innovators, they do not see themselves as such. Brown thinks this is due to women being previously undervalued; a failure to gain feedback on their innate abilities to be powerful and skilled people.
This uncertainty exists in spite of research showing that women direct up to “90% of their income to community infrastructure and improvement, while men re-invest only 30 to 40% of their income.”
“Transformational women leaders may be recognized as those women with a vision of social justice. We would also like to see more gender sensitive women in political decision-making and as heads of large corporations and trade unions,” Brown asserted.
Some poignant questions were raised at the IDB’s 14th annual meeting on civil society.
For example: “What are the consequences of gender inequality in a country? How can women be more proactive in order to achieve equality? What is needed to achieve leadership positions? How can civil society cooperate for the empowerment of women? What is the IDB doing in this area?”
Brown provided her own solutions to these questions:
“We have begun to develop a road map of the actions which are required in relation to gender equality and equitable development.
“Six things are needed:
• Gender equality policies and implementation strategies;
• Change in education, socialization and cultural norms;
• Availability of gender disaggregated data and information;
• Networking opportunities – girls clubs;
• Equal employment and workplace (decent work) policies;
• Access to information, finance and markets.”
Brown has fought for equality for women for decades, yet after all this time, when she looks behind her she still sees a trail of struggle for equality for women.
“The unfortunate reality is that women are still not regarded as equal to their male counterparts. They are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, while violence against women and girls continues to rise,” she pointed out.
Brown says women in enterprise are seen as the “new women movement”.
“This new movement will confront the issues of widespread poverty, sexual and reproductive rights and other forms of discrimination and exclusion which all compound to put women and girls at a severe disadvantage in some places,” she explained.
The Network of NGO coordinator called on women to grasp the reins of power with confidence and trust their ability to succeed as their mothers, did to transform the world into a better place for women and girls as well as boys and men.
The IDB’s Nidia Hidalgo, Senor Specialist, Gender and Diversity Division, and Mary Marca of Bolivia’s Center for Information and Development of Women (CIDEM), were also part of panelists. All three women, including Brown, cited the need for gender policy in government to remedy gender issues.
First published by Trinidad and Tobago Newsday