“It’s important for men in the dude-space to call out sexism,” said Executive Director of United Nations Women and former Deputy President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

She was speaking at the P&G and UN Women #WeSeeEqual gender equality summit in India.

The world marks International Women’s Day annually on 8 March.

Mlambo-Ngcuka also made the simple suggestion to men: don’t allow locker-room talk in your presence.

While men who treat women as equals should be celebrated, they should not expect to be showered with praise just for doing the right thing, Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “No-one praises a woman for taking a child to school. Helping women raise children and doing homework is what responsible citizens do. We shouldn’t have to congratulate a fish for swimming.”

Everyone can do their bit

The private sector can make a crucial contribution to raise awareness about gender inequality through their marketing and advertising initiatives, she said. “These campaigns can change the narrative that perpetuates gender inequality, as we have seen with the Gilette ad focusing on toxic masculinity and the award-winning #LikeAGirl campaign for Always sanitary products that challenged the notion that doing something ‘like a girl’ is negative.”

Always #LikeAGirl generated considerable global awareness and achieved more than 85 million global views on YouTube. Prior to watching the film, just 19% of 16-24-year-olds had a positive association toward “like a girl”. After watching, however, 76% said they no longer saw the phrase negatively. Furthermore, two out of three men who watched it said they’d now think twice before using the “like a girl” as an insult.

READ MORE: #NotInMyNameSA partners with Pastor ‘Mboro’ Motsoeneng to fight gender-based violence

She ended on a positive note, by saying she believes in the “power of one”. “One person can make a change in the lives of millions. Sometimes it’s simply the stroke of a pen and it’s the courage and determination to do it. A handful of leaders can turn the world upside down for the worst – or for the better.”

The #WeSeeEqual Summit brought together influencers from across industries spanning the globe. Guest speakers included TV star, businesswoman and philanthropist Bonang Matheba and prominent entertainment personalities from India, as well Egyptian actress Amina Khalil.

Back to news.