ICEBERG SERIES #6 - Sakura (English)

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A young woman, Sakura, has a dream of becoming a sushi chef in a country that does not support women working in this profession. Her road ahead is filled with many challenges. But with determination to succeed, and parents who are role models and challenge gender norms, Sakura knocks down barriers to gender inequality in her country one step at a time.


Printed at United Nations, Geneva – 2100334 (E) – August 2021 – 1,000 – ODG/PCP/2021/4

The Iceberg book series was inspired by the Perception Change Project’s Iceberg Infographic, a visual demonstration of what the media chooses to broadcast when reporting on the United Nations in the light of global challenges, compared to what the reality is. The production of this book has been made possible by generous financial support from the Fondation pour Genève. Special thanks go to the Division of Conference Management at UN Geneva for editing, translating and printing the books, and to Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, United States of America, for illustrating them. We also acknowledge and thank colleagues and gender specialists for all the feedback.

Printed by the Production and Support Service at UN Geneva, 2021. Author: Kirsten Deall Illustrator: Ruth Duncan Toolkit conceptualization: Miho Watanabe Toolkit design: Miho Watanabe and Manuela Ribeiro



Education Poverty Youth

Climate Change Gender Health Rights Peace

The series is created by the Perception Change Project team in the Office of the Director-General at UN Geneva.


Gender Gender equality is about the redistribution of power. It is about sharing power equally among individuals and groups so that everyone can stand on the same stage to achieve their full potential. There are many ways that people can have power over others. Patriarchy, like racism, homophobia and economic exploitations, is one of them. It gives power to one group over another, and the powerful begin to control other people financially, emotionally, physically, sexually or politically, depending on their relationships, and to affect other people’s access to resources and opportunities. Globally, young men are twice as likely to be in education, employment or training as young women, men spend only a third the number of hours on unpaid domestic and care work that women do, men are paid 16 per cent more than women for doing the same work, and three out of four managers are men. Men aged from 25 to 34 are 25 per cent less likely to live in extreme poverty. Three out of four seats in national parliaments are held by men, and almost all peace negotiators are men. Gender inequality and discrimination are everywhere, and no country has achieved gender equality. Across the world, women and girls are raising their voices, and joining hands with governments, the private sector and social movements. They see gender equality as inseparable from broader struggles for racial justice, workers’ rights, climate change, LGBT rights and more. The Sustainable Development Goals prioritize gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as a catalyst for the achievement of the Goals generally. Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is a stand-alone Goal, and a cross-cutting theme for all Goals. Because development is only sustainable if it benefits women and men equally. At the current pace, it will take another 100 years until the gender gap is closed. But it shouldn’t take this long, and it won’t if we all play our part. Making progress starts with questioning what’s “normal” in our society and challenging that. Recognizing and confronting how power is being distributed around us. And using the power within us to influence others to create a new normal. By doing so, we can shape an alternative future, of a better world for everyone, where girls and boys and women and men can stand on the same stage to achieve their full potential.



When children are asked to draw what they want to become when they grow up, boys often draw themselves as astronauts or athletes. Girls often draw themselves as teachers or nurses. Most of the time, these dreams remain just drawings. As children discover more about the world and meet new people, their dreams and goals change.

When my schoolteacher asked me and my classmates, a group of six-year-olds, to draw what we aspired to be when we grew up, I drew myself, Sakura, as a sushi chef. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, there was one problem: I was a girl.



In my country, it is not looked upon favourably for girls and women to pursue a career as a sushi chef, because it is considered to be a field of craftsmanship, something that is sacred for men. Seldom do women in my country fill high-paying leadership roles. Women most often assume caring or domestic roles, like being a housewife or nursery school teacher. That’s where my mum has inspired me. She helped me realize how important it is to define my own goals and then act upon them.

At the age of 16, my mum became an ama, who are otherwise known as “women of the sea”. This was one of the few options for women in her village to make an income. My mum, and other ama women, would freedive along the coast in freezing cold waters, searching for abalones, sea urchins, seaweed, sea cucumbers and even pearls. 7

As a woman with a physically demanding job, advocating for social protection for ama women, she earned the respect of men and women in her community. Now aged 60, she remains a freediver, helping to preserve the dying tradition that dates back 2,000 years.


My dad is a sushi chef. He owns a popular sushi restaurant in the middle of the city. His restaurant has won many awards, and has been named “restaurant of the year” for three consecutive years. Being a sushi chef is a profession rich in history, discipline and skill. Even after many years of apprenticeship, the proper handling of fish takes years to master.



Growing up, my dad and his sister wanted to become sushi chefs together, after watching and learning from their father. However, from a young age, he was taught that women could not become sushi chefs. This meant that his sister couldn’t follow her dream of making sushi for a living. He didn’t understand it, and when he questioned it, he always got the same answer: that women’s hands are warmer than men’s hands, which harms the fish and affects the taste. (He later learned that this was a myth, as studies showed that women’s hands are in fact cooler than men’s).

He remembers how frustrated he felt for his sister. He made a vow to himself to change this discriminatory view that was holding back women. That’s when I was born. 11

From my toddler years, I used to watch my father making sushi. It was a form of entertainment for me that kept me quiet and occupied for hours. Naturally, I developed an interest in increasing my own culinary skills.


As I grew up, I was able to get more involved in making sushi with my dad. From the beginning, he nurtured my hobby through encouragement and proper training. He taught me that I am strong and capable, and that I can make sushi as well as any male sushi chef.


I decided to pursue this career, despite the stigma attached to women sushi chefs. I bravely (or recklessly) opened a pop-up sushi shop. It wasn’t easy for me. Customers were hard to come by. Those who did pass by would make nasty comments.


Some said it was unhygienic for women to be chefs, because their long hair fell into the food. Some said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, when their order was taking too long. Food critics were releasing negative reports about the low-price, low-quality sushi served. 15

On the days I went to the fish market, men would make inappropriate comments to me. When it got tough mentally, I remembered my mum, who had been a role model to me as I was growing up.


She had taken on a physically demanding job, made a decent income, shared household chores with my dad, and made decisions that mattered to her. Reflecting on her example made me push through the hard times.


It wasn’t all bad. There were a handful of people who complimented me on my sushi and became regular customers. Not too long after that, journalists who had got wind that my pop-up sushi shop was buzzing began to visit, and to interview me. That was a turning point for debunking the myths about women sushi chefs. For the first time, people were starting to realize that women can make sushi as well as men can.


After I had established a core group of regular customers, I decided to take the next big step. I opened a sushi restaurant in a student town, with the idea of serving high-quality low-price sushi. As the owner, I had two conditions for running the restaurant. The first was to work with and rely on ama women for shellfish and seaweed. The second was to train up and employ only women sushi chefs.

My mother was pleased about the inclusion of ama women. But she was concerned about my idea of having an open kitchen in the restaurant where I – and other female chefs – would be visible. She believed it would influence customers’ reviews of the sushi, when they saw who was making it. I, on the other hand, wanted to let the sushi speak for itself. It was trickier than I had anticipated.


Opening a restaurant is hard enough, without the stigma of being a female sushi chef. Trying to stand out from all the other sushi restaurants was a real challenge. But I was determined to succeed in reorienting society’s on women in the workplace.


Today, many years after I opened my own restaurant, it has been listed as “restaurant of the year”, and I have been given an award as a gender equality champion. Over the years, I have realized the importance of setting a clear vision, and having confidence in one’s own abilities to take action, with no thought to gender.


Someone once told me that privilege is invisible to those who have it. I didn’t really understand that at the time, but on reflection, I have discovered what they meant. To use the example of becoming a sushi chef, male sushi chefs don’t realize the freedom and privilege they have as compared to women who want to become sushi chefs. Their gender is invisible to those providing them with the opportunities to succeed.


For a female chef, gender is visible, and privilege is minimal. Certain leaders in this area of cuisine see a woman and consider her unfit to fulfil the role, whereas it should be about her abilities.


As a female sushi chef myself, I would like to challenge the current state of affairs. Women need to be made visible in areas where they are currently invisible, be it in politics, sports, science, IT, or piloting a plane. Amina Mohammed, Ava DuVernay, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Serena WiIliams and Erna Solberg are a few examples of the many powerful women in the world. If more women are given an opportunity, more women will show that they certainly can stand the heat in the kitchen, so to speak.


I often look at the drawing I did of myself as a sushi chef. That young Sakura had big dreams. Little did she know that those dreams would be not be fulfilled without immense difficulty. With fierce determination, I, Sakura, set out to make good sushi, and I achieved something far greater: inspiring girls and boys to turn their dreams and drawings of themselves into lifechanging reality.


Meet the Real Heroes Although Sakura is a fictional story, there are many real-life stories like hers, of girls and women who haven’t been able to pursue a certain career because of cultural norms linked to misconceptions of girls and women. ANNA I built my career in banking and law, two male-dominated industries. When I started practising law, I was often asked to make coffee or pick up dry cleaning. I was upset and discouraged by this treatment. In some colleagues’ eyes, I was merely a young woman, not an young lawyer. In recruitment, I’ve often heard colleagues say things like “all women want to be mothers eventually”, “women with children want to stay at home or work part-time to look after their children” and “men don’t want to take paternity leave or flexible working arrangements because they’re the breadwinners in the family”. These have been used to filter out women candidates. But I met many colleagues who believed in gender equality and spoke up against inequality. They called out discriminatory behaviour whenever they spotted it. They supported women, helping them to flourish in the workplace. I wanted to be just like them. As I progressed in my career, I actively sought out people and workplaces that promoted gender equality. Certainly, it’s not easy to be a whistle-blower, especially if that could cost you your job. But if leaders don’t lead by example, and if no one speaks up, nothing will change. Putting women and men into boxes and assigning rigid gender stereotypes limits our ability to understand different realities experienced by individual women and men. It also limits our ability to envision and create a supportive workplace that meets the needs of a diversity of workers. We need to hear the realities of people who are marginalized. We need to assess our own privileges and gender biases, and challenge them. Talking honestly and openly about our priorities and about solutions will help to create a workplace where everyone feels safe, supported and empowered. UN-Women


RAWYA I come from a village in Fayoum, in Egypt. I started making pottery when I met a female pottery artist, Evelyn, who came to our village for work. I was 14 years old. At that time, all pottery workshops were run by men. Nevertheless, I set up my own workshop. It was small, with only me and my husband working there. I dedicated myself to sharpening my skills and then creating beautiful pottery that could compete in the marketplace. I spent most of my time working at the workshop and would travel to Cairo to sell my products. Being a seller was not easy. I was illiterate like most girls in my village who weren’t allowed to go to school. I couldn’t add up or read customers’ orders. I decided to learn how to read, write and do arithmetic. With support from Fair Trade Egypt, my business gradually grew. They helped me sell my products in Egypt and abroad. I travelled to France twice to attend exhibitions and showcase my village’s traditions. I made contact there with prospective buyers. These days, I have two workshops, with 14 workers. People in my village and visitors admire my pottery and praise me for all the hard work I have put into it. I also teach students who want to learn pottery from me. Now I can share my success with people in my village. I can also change their views about the value of women’s work. And this makes me feel so proud. World Fair Trade Organization


BETH When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, my five-year plan of opening a wine-focused business turned into a more immediate one. I know how important it is to focus on the things you love, so three months after Katrina struck, I signed a lease on a wine bar. I wanted to invest in the city and help bring New Orleans back to life. The catering industry is male-dominated, from chef to sommelier, so it can be tough for women to enter. I hear stories of men taking advantage of young women, and I hate that this is still part of our business. I’m upset that women feel they have to put up with this behaviour or ignore it to make progress. When my partner and I tried to get the neighborhood association to agree to our licence application, they fought us. If we had been a male-female couple, or if it was just a man applying, then it would have been different. But that didn’t stop us. I never thought that as a woman, I could not achieve my goals. My dad raised really strong girls, giving us confidence. And as a gay woman, I have never expected any help from men. That’s the way I have lived my entire life. Swirl Wine Bar and Market became a place for people to get together to tell their stories of rebuilding, to talk about what was happening in the city. It became a community meeting place. My advice to young women is to be knowledgeable, to trust that knowledge, and to trust themselves if challenged. It takes a certain amount of fearlessness. United Nations


SALLY When Sally was at elementary school, she wrote a letter to NASA, asking how she could go into space. She got a short letter back from a NASA official saying that there was no present plan to employ women because of the technical and physical difficulties around sending women into space. She kept the letter all her life. Just before Sally was set to defend her doctoral thesis, she read an advertisement in a student newspaper. NASA was recruiting astronauts, and was allowing women to apply for the first time. She was selected as one of six women for NASA’s class of 1978. In press conferences, she was asked if she cried when things went wrong on the job, whether the flight would affect her reproductive organs, and what make-up she would take into space. She later said, “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.” In 1983, Sally became the first American woman, and the youngest American, in space. Her first flight on the space shuttle was an immense success. A year later, she went on her second mission into space. She was appointed to investigate the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, and became a special assistant to the NASA administrator, for long-range and strategic planning. By then, she was one of NASA’s most well-known and well-respected astronauts. She left NASA for academia, to pursue her love for physics and research. She became a physics professor, a science communicator and an author. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization working to promote science, engineering and maths education for children, with a particular focus on girls. “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see”, she said in an interview. She lived a life committed to science, education and inclusion, and died in 2012. Five years after her death, 50 per cent of NASA’s astronaut class were women. Harvard Business Review


Although progress in achieving gender equality is slow and we still have a long way to go, improvements are being made all the time. These are a few examples of the positive statistics that should be making headlines. As the numbers are changing daily, please see the websites of the relevant organizations for the most up-to-date information. • In 2014, 143 out of 195 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their constitutions. • In 2019, just over 24 per cent of national parliamentarians around the globe were women, a slow rise from 11.3 per cent in 1995. Over 60 per cent of Rwanda’s parliamentarians are women, followed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia where over 50 per cent of seats are held by women. • Between 2013 and 2017, the number of women in science and engineering and professional and technical occupations grew by 2.9 per cent a year. Closing the gender gap in the workforce could add a staggering $28 trillion to global GDP. • In 1974, only Sweden provided paternity leave. In 2015, 94 countries across the world provided it. In Switzerland, women gained 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave in 2005, and in 2019, men gained two weeks’ paid paternity leave. 30

• The global maternal mortality ratio fell by 38 per cent between 2000 and 2017, and all regions have seen increased access by women to contraception. • Globally, the proportion of women who were married as children decreased by 15 per cent between 2008 to 2018, from one in four to approximately one in five. Twenty thousand child marriages have been annulled in Malawi since 2015. • In 31 countries, the percentage of adolescent girls aged from 15 to 19 who have undergone female genital mutilation has fallen from 47 per cent in 1995 to 34 per cent today. • The global gender gap, which is measured across four key areas (health, education, work and politics), has narrowed slightly to 68.6 per cent. The average gap left to close is now 31.4 per cent, compared to 32 per cent in 2018.

Gender Toolkit

Shall we talk about gender? This toolkit contains activities for you to do alone or in a group. Look

Individual or a small group exercise


at questions as you do activities, and have discussion with people around you.

ACTIVITY 1 Female Gender Stereotypes in Media1

Choose a random female character from a film or a story. Fill in the section below any female gender stereotypes you can see of your chosen character.

Discuss with a partner If the gender stereotype of this character were removed or changed, would the outcome of the story be different? Create new attributes below. Appearance


Female Character Appearance



E.g. pretty, delicate, longhair, makeup/ skirts etc.

E.g. looks after children/ elderlies, cooks, cleans, follows rather than leads, happiness depends on a man


Draw the

E.g. gentle, caring, native, emotional, irrational, multi-tasker, friendly

Adapted from: International Women’s Day and Teach Starter, Teaching Resources


redesigned character with new attributes.



What is the difference between sex and gender?

‘Sex’ refers to biology and whether someone’s body has male or female organs, like reproductive organs, chromosome or hormones. ‘Gender’ refers to social or cultural ideas of what it means to act, dress, speak, or express ourselves as men and women, and it varies from society to society. ‘Male’ and ‘female’ are sex word. ‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are gender words.

What is patriarchy?

Patriarchy is a social system that give power

to men over women and children. Although all men generally benefit from patriarchy, it doesn’t benefit them equally.

1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner

Women spend three times more than men doing unpaid care and domestic work

3 out of 4 managers are men

Men are paid 16% more than women for the

same work

From an early age, we learn from people around us what it means to ‘be a man’ or ‘be a woman’. This could be how men and women look like, what kind of things they like, how they act, and how they interact with each other. When these ideas are communicated through our families, the media, friends, teachers and what we see in our world, we accept them as normal. This is called gender norms.


AC T I V IT Y 2 Gender norms and power

Read below and discuss with a partner. Phrases like ‘Boys don’t cry’ and ‘Act like a lady’ reinforce gender norms because it is based on the belief that boys don’t

show emotions, and girls should be gentle and quiet. Can you think of other phrases like these? How do these phrases influence children’s behavior? What’s considered ‘normal’ attributes of women and men are called ‘gender norms”.

Gender norms also create hierarchies between groups of men or women and gives power to one group over another. For example, if people believe men make logical decisions while women make emotional decisions, they will vote for a male leader over a woman who has the same experiences and qualifications. If people believe men are reckless and aggressive while women are careful and passive, men feel entitled to use violence to control women and women are blamed for their actions when they are abused.

Pair or group exercise


We often talk about gender power

dynamics between genders, but gender power exists within genders too. Among

your peers, who are the boys on top of the

men’s hierarchy, and how do they exhibit traditional masculinity traits? Are boys who don’t conform to traditional masculinity traits (e.g. gentle, passive, careful) given less importance by other men? In the West, traditional masculinity traits include competitive, active, strength, dominance, and risk-taking.

What we do and what we see others do, is how people decide what is ‘normal’ and acceptable. This is how gender norms and power imbalance are justified and maintained. At the same time, by challenging what’s ‘normal’ and expressing positive alternatives of our gender, we can influence our friends, families and people around us, and eventually influence the norms, values, and policies in our society.


ACTIVITY 3 The Power Walk2 Facilitator note (you, him, her, them. Anyone can be a facilitator!) Have participants form a straight


Large group activity and discussion Before you start find an open space to conduct the activity | Cut out the set of character cards or create your own

line along one side of the room. Give each

participant one character card. Explain the purpose “This activity will examine how patriarchy and power can work together to restrict some people’s human rights.”

Read each of the following statements in turn and give participants time to move

Tell participants “For this activity, you will become these characters living in this country. I will read out a series of

forward if the statement applies to them. I have had or will have opportunities to complete

statements. For each statement, I want you to think about if that statement is true or false for the character you have

my education I can earn enough money to live comfortably I could find a new job easily Our political officials don’t dismiss my issues as

been given. If it is true, step forward once. If it is false, stay where you are. You can ask the group for help if you aren’t sure

‘special interest’ It is possible for me to choose clothing that doesn’t send any particular message to the world.

about a particular statement”

I can be open about my sexuality Most politicians share my sex, particularly the higher-ups If I have a health problem, I can get the help I need right away I can leave my partner if he or she threatens my safety If I have a crime committed against me, the police will listen to my case I can read and understand news or public information given by the government authorities where I live I can walk down a street at night and not worry about my safety I am respected by most members of society I am socially accepted for my true identity



Adapted from: UN Women, The Change-Makers (2014)


When you finish reading all the statements, ask the participants to read their roles again.

Ask the participant to remain where they are standing, and use the following questions to lead a discussion. What does it feel like to be standing where you are?

For those who moved a little Does it feel right to be so far behind others? Who or what is to blame? For those who moved a lot Does it feel

right to be so far ahead? Why are you so far ahead?

How much inequality do you see between the characters in this activity? Why does this inequality exist? What would need to happen in our society so that everyone in this group could be standing at the same point in the front of the line, with equal levels of power?

Ask participants to hand in their character cards and sit down in a circle. Ask some volunteers to share how they feel about taking back their own roles and characters. How does their own power compare to the power their characters had?

There are many ways that people can have power over each other, and it is important for us to be aware of the effects it can have on everyone in our society. What is valued in our society is masculine over feminine, heterosexual over LGBT, nondisabled over disabled, dominant ethnic/ racial groups over minorities, and financially secure over financially challenged. This gives power to one group over another, leading to patriarchy, homophobia, racism, economic exploitation and other forms of

discrimination, taking away rights from the less powerful. Some people have even less power because they suffer from multiple forms of discrimination, such as gender, race and disability, combined with low income, legal barriers and languages. As we saw in the activity, while all women and girls experience gender-based discrimination and harassment, the wealthy wife of a politician does not face the same oppression that the female migrant worker

from a foreign country would experience. This is called intersectionality, and it is particularly important for gender advocates to understand how different sets of identities impact on different women and girls’ access to rights and opportunities.


ACTIVITY 4 Voice Up3


Large group activity and discussion Facilitator note

Explain to participants “Whether in a romantic relationship, with our

Before you start Hang a blank sheet of flipchart on the wall or use a chalkboard or whiteboard.

parents, friends or other people, we’ve all experienced being afraid to stand up and feeling ‘silenced’. It can be difficult

stand up for yourself. In 5 minutes, I will ask you to share this story with

sometimes to be assertive and voice up for what you believe in, but it is also very important. In this activity, we will

your group, while everyone listens with respect to create a safe environment for sharing. Please try to answer the questions on the flipchart as you tell your story.”

start by sharing a moment that you remember feeling ‘silenced’.“

This activity is more effective if the facilitator shares a story or an example to start the discussion. This could be personal or a case study. Some examples may include negotiating with parents about a later curfew, standing up to peer pressure to drink alcohol or do drugs within a social group, being bullied or influenced to progress too quickly in a romantic relationship.

After five minutes, ask the participants to begin sharing and listening to each

other’s stories. Circulate around the room to ensure that everyone is participating and listening respectfully.

Write on a flip chart at the front of the

room Who was involved? What happened? How was the result different from what you wanted? What words or actions did

the other person use to influence you? How did this make you feel?

Divide the participants into small groups and announce, “Think about a story from your life when you felt you were treated unfairly or where you weren’t able to



Adapted from: UN Women, The Change-Makers (2014)

Allow the groups to share for 10-15 minutes, until everyone has had a chance

One by one, ask the groups to come up to the front of the room and perform

remember these moments that make us feel sad or angry or helpless. For our

When everyone has returned to their

to tell their story. Call the group back together and announce, “Thank you for sharing your stories. It can be hard to

next activity, I want us to work together to “flip the script” on these situations. How could we have handled these

situations in positive, powerful and respectful ways that allow each of us to stand up for ourselves?” Write on the flipchart one more question: How could I have stood up for myself? Continue, “In your groups, choose one of the stories that were shared. Using this story, I want you to work together to rewrite the situation to create a positive outcome. Let these stories show the individuals standing up for themselves and using effective communication and their own power to speak out for what they believe. You will have 15 minutes to discuss your scenario and then I would like members from your group to come up and demonstrate this in a role play for the rest of the participants.” Give the participants time to discuss their role plays in their groups and move around the room providing and support where necessary. After 15 minutes, call “Stop!”


their short role plays. Encourage other participants to contribute any questions or comments after each performance.

seats, debrief by asking the following

questions What examples of positive communication did we see in these stories? How was the power balanced in

the end? Was this fair? How could it be improved? Do you think the individual did enough to stand up for themselves? Why are these important skills to learn? How will you use them in your life?

Everything we do, every word and action, has an influence on other people and on our society. We can use our own power and influence to strengthen our cause and to increase the support for the rights and freedoms we believe in. In doing so, we need to present our causes in a safe and welcoming environment that encourages other people to join in rather than frightening people away. When we use power within us in a safe and dynamic way, it can be a powerful and personal tool for change and mobilization.



What’s the difference between gender equality and gender equity?

Gender equality refers to equal rights of women and men to have the same opportunities to access and control social, economic and political resources. Gender equity sets the stage for gender equality by considering men and women’s different needs and compensating for women’s historical and social disadvantages so that both men and women can fully participate in social, economic and political lives as equal partners (see the image). In short, if gender equality is the end goal, gender equity is the means to get there.

There are policies that prioritize women over men to take seats in politics or businesses. Isn’t it discrimination against men?

Because of historical and social discriminations women experience, men and women are not at the same starting point to access opportunities and resources. Measures must be available to compensate for the unequal system, so both men and women can equally participate in social, economic, and political lives. It is a process of being fair to women and men. This is called ‘temporary special measures’. (In the left image, it is the box the person is standing on). An example of temporary special measures is a policy that

ensures 30% of women’s representation in parliaments. Temporary special measures must not be used to discriminate against men, and it is of a temporary nature that is discontinued once desired results have been achieved and sustained. In other words, when gender equality is achieved.



How does gender equality benefit men?

Men are just as strongly influenced by

Expectations for men to be tough also prevent

For example, the concept of masculinity at home and in schools promotes risk-taking

health and suicidal rates. By addressing disadvantages and costs to men accruing from

gender as women are. What it means ‘to be a man’ shapes men’s behavior and lifestyle.

behaviors among young men, reinforced by peer pressure and media stereotypes, and it continues through adulthood. This expose men to greater risks of violence, accidents, and substance abuse.

them from seeking help when they feel vulnerable, increasing their risk of mental

gender differences, gender equality provides men with greater life choices. It is important that both men and women are aware of the benefits that gender equality brings to them as individuals and as members of their communities and the society, because gender equality cannot be achieved without men.


International Geneva The city of Geneva lies in the southwestern tip of Switzerland and boasts some of the country’s most recognized qualities. The spectacular views of the surrounding mountains capture first-time visitors and long-standing residents alike, its competitive financial centre attracts business persons from around the world, its quality of life is second to none and, above all else, Geneva hosts a high number of international organizations. This led to the term “International Geneva” being coined. It all started in 1863, when the Red Cross was founded in Geneva to protect victims of armed conflicts. Today, people come together in this city to address not only humanitarian needs but also challenges related to peace, health, science, human rights, migration, climate change and more. International Geneva unites international organizations, academic institutions, an international business community, many non-governmental organizations and the permanent representatives of 180 Member States of the United Nations. The lives being affected by International Geneva extend well beyond Geneva itself and the leitmotif that runs through its work is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the way that International Geneva, together with its many partners across the world, fights against poverty, prevents violence, protects the planet and does so much more. Geneva may be small in size, its reach is global. It is the venue where the world crafts solutions. 40

The Perception Change Project Time and again, when people hear about the United Nations for the first time, their eyes light up. Especially children. The comfort and reassurance we feel knowing that there is an organization that brings the entire world together, for peace, rights and well-being, are unparalleled. We don’t need to explain why there is a need for such an organization. We all get it. It’s there, for all of us. And it’s in International Geneva. At the same time, this feeling of awe and security fades away quickly because we live in tumultuous times and, of course, the reality is different. We have ups and downs, and we are also constantly adapting to address new challenges. News stories often focus on the negative, while we all take the positive for granted. We have a natural tendency to put the spotlight on issues that need to be fixed rather than celebrate what we are good at. But the mission and underlying impact of the work of the United Nations and its partners remain the same, and we don’t always realize it in our daily lives. The good news is that this constellation of organizations that make up International Geneva is still there, carrying out its noble mission. And it belongs to all of us. For it to thrive, we all need to recognize its value, its impact and make sure it can do what it was designed to do. This is what the Perception Change Project has set out to do and it succeeds every time eyes light up when people hear about the United Nations, just like they did the first time.


Sustainable Development Goals In an era when we are bombarded with negative news, it is easy to feel discouraged and unequipped to improve the world we live in. Thankfully, to address the many problems, world leaders have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: a set of 17 goals that are humanity’s road map for transforming our planet into a better place. The goals reach everyone, they leave no one behind, they are all interconnected and they are everyone’s responsibility. We have everything we need to help everyone thrive and reach their potential. Together, let’s create a world where peace, rights and well-being become a reality.


A young woman, Sakura, has a dream of becoming a sushi chef in a country that does not support women working in this profession. Her road ahead is filled with many challenges. But with determination to succeed, and parents who are role models and challenge gender norms, Sakura knocks down barriers to gender inequality in her country one step at a time.


Printed at United Nations, Geneva – 2100334 (E) – August 2021 – 1,000 – ODG/PCP/2021/4

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