US Election results a call to action for gender activists

Date: November 10, 2016
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10 November: The election of Donald Trump as the 44th President of the United States of America (USA) is a call to action to all gender activists to refuse to accept sexism in high office. The former businessman blazed his way to the White House with a slew of racist, sexist and xenophobic pronouncements that left the world, and many Americans in shock.

Trump has been quoted in the media calling women “bimbo”, “nasty”, “missy piggy” and “gold diggers.” In another interview he said, “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.”

The November 8 USA elections has revealed a disturbing patriarchal trend in which the least qualified man is considered a better choice than the most qualified woman. Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, a respected politician with over 40 years of experience in government, trailed behind Trump’s even in some of her party’s past strongholds. This points towards a society that is not ready to embrace female leadership.

The gap between formal provisions on gender equality and prevailing attitudes in our region is highlighted in the first ever Southern Africa Gender Attitudes Survey that shows that policies and laws are not enough in the fight against gender inequality. While a high proportion of women and men agreed that women and men are equal, an equally high proportion said that women should obey their husbands.

Trump’s ascend to the presidency comes just a few weeks after the launch of the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 which shows that progress on gender equality is moving at a very slow pace. According to the report it may take 83 years to close the gender gap in health, education, economics and politics. This calls for a commitment from the newly elected USA administration to ensure preservation of the gains of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the willingness to take the agenda forward.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which become enforceable at the beginning of this year have a standalone goal on gender equality. Goal five on gender equality is an ambitious and transformative roadmap to ensure that both women and men get equal opportunities to realise their fullest potential.

“Trump’s election is a frightening reminder that patriarchy, misogyny and sexism are alive and well even in the richest and most influential democracy in the world,” said GL CEO Colleen Lowe Morna. “This is a call to action to hang on to the fragile gains made for gender equality and not to allow them to slip back in the face of this new onslaught.”  Read more

View a special edition of The 51 Percent on France 24 on air asking guests why so many women voted for Donald Trump and also how equality will fare in Trump’s America.

For further information contact Lucia Makamure on 071 035 8896.