#HeforSheHeForShe is inviting people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality. Oliver Neukamm has shared with his perspective on the gender inequality in today's world and his role in creating positive change.
I grew up in a wealthy, predominantly white suburban village in Germany. I never thought that inequality was a part of my life. For over 20 years I was unaware that inequality was something I had to fight against.
But inequality gives me a privilege. A privilege that for a long time I was blissfully unaware of. It took me many years to realise how much inequality there is, happening around each and everyone of us on a daily basis and how being conscious of that privilege can help us to slowly erode barriers and obstacles.
The fact it is 2018 and we are still discussing the equal treatment of men in women in the societies of the western hemisphere is tragic, not to mention the barriers to education, the period poverty epidemic and the soaring rates of female violence globally.
Our parents and grandparents certainly had to deal with the big tasks and challenges of their respective times; be it devastating wars that threatened to obliterate a whole continent, racial inequalities that began to be fought or the transformation into modern societies that came with technical progress in the 20th and early 21st century.
The way I see it, it is our generation’s responsibility to not only maintain the standard of living we are so lucky to have fallen into, to preserve the planet that we have been mindlessly abusing in the name of progress but it is also our challenge to fight for a united and equal society.
We need to leave our children and grandchildren a healthy basis for a promising future. Amongst all the pressing issues our generation faces, one of the biggest is certainly the equality of people. All the people.
I am surrounded by the most amazing women – be it in my relationship, my family, my friendships, my workplace and my neighbourhood. I see no reason whatsoever why all these inspiring and incredible women, who work equally as hard as I do (sometimes probably even harder) should not be afforded the same opportunities or earn a single penny less than the males around them. It is not fair that they face criticism and limitations purely because of their gender.
Until recently, I didn't think I was a feminist. In fact I thought that a feminist hated men, wanted women to rule the world and was a label limited only for the female sex. But I was wrong. I believe strongly in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. I'm a feminist too.
It is on all of us, men and women, to challenge out-dated mindsets and make the change happen. You and I have the chance to speak up to everyday sexism, to laddish comments and to locker room talk. It's on us to work together for change.
You and I have a role to play in changing our society. To change the way the world thinks about women, we have to change the way we think about them. To change the way our mothers, wives, partners, daughters and granddaughters are treated by the world, we have to treat them differently and call out those who refuse to do the same.
I have only very recently come to the realisation that I am a feminist. I had not thought the word could or should apply to me. This is not about publicly declaring how much of a feminist I am but more about acting upon my principles and using my voice and privilege for good. It is about doing everything we can to make the world we live in more equal for everyone.
There is still a long way to go but we can, and we will, get there if we all fight the daily inequalities around us, every day. Let's not divide, let's unite.
The HeForShe solidarity movement was created by UN Women to provide a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime. It is an innovative, inclusive approach that mobilises people of every gender identity and expression as advocates, and acknowledges the ways that we all benefit from this equality.
HeForShe invites people everywhere to come together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions for the good of all of humanity.