November 25 was celebrated as the International Day for the elimination of violence against women (IDEVAW2015). It is a very poignant remembrance of the women in the history of our societies who have endured tremendous pain, suffering, abuse and even torture just because… It is also a reminder that as women we MUST honor those memories and utilize them as the supplement to our own strength. Yes, as we make our way through each day in today’s society let us be ever mindful that we must be vigilant especially as professionals. We must be vigilant that as we prepare ourselves for careers with training and experience that we are aware of the systems and situations which are in place to prevent us from reaching our truest potentials. You see its not only physical, mental and psychological abuse which violently stymies our development there are also societal and systemic ways in which women are abused. It is an unfortunate occurrence where women, who are equally trained and equally experienced, are not afforded the same opportunities in the workplace- the choice projects, the promotions and equitable salaries.
Another area where women are not treated fairly and thus are inadvertently disadvantaged is in the area of research. Many programmes and studies are led by men with women as the assistants and or co-lead at best. It may explain why the data results are sometimes not disaggregated by gender and have a patriarchal point of reference in the analysis. No where is this more evident than in the allocation of resources to social services and programmes. There is an issue of undervaluing such services and programmes. The problems to be addressed do not get the required attention. For example, the family and the household is often mainly the responsibility of women, especially in developing countries. Water and sanitation issues can be the lens through which this is examined as where the physical infrastructure is not available to convey improved water directly to poor households , the women and girls, often have to procure water from communal facilities. Engineering reports have the tendency to overlook such challenges as there is a reliance on demographic data such as heads of household and employment data- data which may be male dominant. The inclusion and disaggregated treatment of data would unearth the socio-environmental information thus leading to more informed decision making.
The figure below is a summary of the gender imbalances in research.