#The future is equal and inclusive

Women’s Month in South Africa is wrapping up. Social media has been full of events centred on women’s wellness, women’s leadership, unconscious bias, women as entrepreneurs, women’s role in tech, women in science, women breaking the mould. All of this is important. Important in that girls and women – even in 2022 – face obstacles in making their best contribution at work. Missing rungs, sticky floors, glass ceilings, glass cliffs – no matter which way you look at it, women ‘disappear’ from organisations over time. Moving towards equality and gender parity continues to be painstakingly slow. Small gains have been made. Organisations are starting to look different. Yet women continue to navigate the ‘likeability gap’, ‘double binds’ and are burnout in their proving, pleasing, perfecting and pretending.

I am left wondering if we’re trying to solve this using the same perspective that created it. A perspective that sees things in black and white, male and female, in and out. As a ‘the future is female’ t-shirt wearer and flag waver, I have had a growing sense of discomfort. I am increasingly uncomfortable by replacing one hierarchy for another. Something that seems less and less relevant as we face a planet in crises.

Something radical and disruptive is needed.

And that seems to be the movement to step beyond binary. As someone for whom ‘feminist’ has always been a cornerstone of my identity, I am starting to explore what might be possible if I thought beyond gender, beyond binary. If the goals of equality and parity might not be better served if we thought beyond gender.

I am experimenting, looking at things from a different perspective, settling into the discomfort and messiness of ideas not fully clear – exploring what might be gained; and what might be lost for girls and women; what might be needed to think beyond gender; what practical steps we might start taking; and how the LGBIT+ community might be bravely and painfully pioneering a world that is beyond binary for all of us, no matter how we identify.

As we move from August into September, and minds turn from ‘Women’s Month’ to the next pressing cause. I am certain of this – much more might be possible for all of us if we moved into a radically inclusive and equal future. ‘The future is equal and inclusive’ may not be the catchiest slogan for a t-shirt. Yet it feels a hopeful and powerful path forward.

By Kerrin Miller

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