Gender equality is important to me and as we celebrate the International Women’s Day, I will continue to play my part in the fight against inequality.


“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.” – Ban Ki-moon (former UN Secretary-General).

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am a self-proclaimed “humanist”; I believe in the rights of all humans. We should work on advancing the rights of all genders.

With that being said, I also want to disclose again that I went to a women’s college, Marymount College, which is part of Fordham University in New York. I learnt a lot about women’s history, of course, yet what I realise is that this made me understand, on an intrinsic level, why gender equality is relevant and how we shortchange the world when we view efforts at ensuring a global gender balance as a feminist witch hunt against men.

Gender equality isn’t a surreptitious movement that’s anti-men, or a ‘us’ against ‘them’ situation. It’s a chance to boost the potential of each and every one of us to drive economies forward, to create a society where we are all seen as capable people, irrespective of our gender. It’s a possibility for all of us to progress, and we should all take the opportunity for this with both hands.

One recent morning, I was going through the WhatsApp statuses of friends on my phone and one of them had uploaded two contrasting pictures – one, of students in a medical school, and the other, students in an engineering school. The former had a mixture of both genders in it and the latter comprised of only men. I was taken aback by this depiction, because I am an engineer of over 20 years standing, and there was a good mix of men and women in the engineering programme I gradiated from in the United States back then. The same had been the case when I started my engineering degree at the University of Port Harcourt before my family relocated for the United States. This was over 20 years ago. A professor at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) recently stated that the proportion of the sexes in quite a number of engineering programmes are either close to 50:50 or they tilt towards having more women (such as in petrochemical engineering, and chemical engineering). Then I wondered: Why should a poster be used to create an illustration that depicted women as being scared of engineering professions? And why did the person who uploaded consider doing this?

Well, many know that this isn’t true; women are as interested in being scientists and engineers, as men are.

Our goal should be for more women to have the opportunities to work wherever their strengths lie, and not where society directs them to. The idea of the creation of a vast talent pool is an important reason why gender equality is important.


In returning to my main premise: Raising girls to be all that they can be is of great benefit to society, and this has been proven in many homes. When I was a little girl, I was interested in learning how things worked. I was always trying to figure out how gadget worked; fixing and tweaking them. My father never said: “You are a girl; why are you interested in electronics? You should be in the kitchen.” Instead, he saw my interest and the value I brought to the family when I figured out the gadgets for all of our use.

I read online that the economy in the United States is two trillion dollars larger ($2,000,000,000,000) than it would’ve been if there weren’t as many women in the workforce. Now, if the rest of the world doesn’t allow women to join the workforce, imagine all of the lost revenue!

In nations such as ours, the standard of how families live dramatically increases when the women in the home join the workforce, making more disposable income available. The sad thing, however, is that data shows that the participation of male in the workforce surpasses that of females. Women also work more often in spheres where they receive lower wages. This is as a result of institutional discrimination and gender biases, which is why there are more concerted efforts to get women into careers in which there are fewer of them.

Our goal should be for more women to have the opportunities to work wherever their strengths lie, and not where society directs them to be. The idea of the creation of a vast talent pool is an important reason why gender equality is important.

A report by McKinsey states that if organisations employed women equally as men, these places would have more diverse skill-sets, with their profits increasing by 3.5 per cent. I like that math of more gender diversity correlating to increased profitability. I postulate that it would also lead to more innovative solutions to the challenges we face in society.

Gender equality is important to me and as we celebrate the International Women’s Day, I will continue to play my part in the fight against inequality.

Adetola Salau, Carismalife4U@gmail.com, an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.