08 March 2022
This year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Break the Bias”, aims to bring awareness to the gender biases women face every day in all walks of life. Biases exist around us in terms of gender, colour, nationality, height, identity, physical disability, sexuality, and the list goes on. #BreaktheBias encourages us to rethink and call out gender bias when we see it happen, keeping us accountable for our thoughts and actions.
Gender bias refers to women being treated differently than men and her potential being suppressed in many aspects. Whether the bias is deliberate or subconscious, it prevents women from achieving their full potential by obstructing many chances and recognition due to them.
In 2020, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a study revealing that almost 90% of men and women show some bias against women, which creates a lot of barriers and obstacles for women. Consider the Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) which measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population. This GSNI raises concerns about the vast power gap between men and women in politics and the economy.
Even today, in Malaysia even women Parliamentarians have to struggle extra hard to make their voices to be heard in the midst of all the sexist taunts in Parliament by their male counterparts. Can you imagine what is the fate of normal women in workplace and public domain in trying to get their voices heard or their issues highlighted?
Our society as a whole has proven to be biased, sexist, misogynistic, unequal, and insensitive. It reveals itself in our thought process, working norms, and interactions deeply rooted in traditional gender roles and norms and the underlying imbalance of power that shapes them. This creates a substantial disparity in how women and girls acquire opportunities to engage in public life compared to men and boys.
The Malaysian society perpetuates many ‘norms’ that marginalizes several factions of society, including the LGBTQI+ individuals. For women in Malaysia, especially women from the minority, marginalized and underrepresented groups, this year’s IWD theme is very meaningful as it focuses on equal representation, gender balance in the public decision-making process and the end to the bias.
We all have our unconscious biases, which is a huge problem. It is time for us to realize it and encourage women to speak up against bias in the workplace, at home, in Parliament, and in every aspect of our lives. It’s time to be inspired and inspire others to break the bias.
Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is a moment for us to reflect on and celebrate the women’s struggle in Malaysia and globally. Together, we can take it further and make more progress supporting women’s rights. Equality is not only for imagination and dreams; it is a collective responsibility and Gender Equality is not a women issue but a human issue.
Happy International Women’s Day from Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Parti Sosialis Malaysia