Festive celebrations minus gender roles

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 21 December 2022 at 03:17

It’s the festive season, and while you’re excited to see everyone, you might feel nervous about how gender dynamics play out.

Some relatives can be a little bit traditional when it comes to gender roles, especially when it comes to hosting, but you don’t want the family gathering to be a battleground over who does what and who gets to do what.

So, how can you promote gender equality at your family party during this holiday season?

It can seem a bit unnecessary to have these conversations, especially if you assume that everyone is happy with their roles in the family but unless you ask you might never know.

In a recent conversation with my friend, she mentioned how she dreads the preparation for the annual Christmas party.

This aversion has nothing to do with how she feels about her family but with the load of work that awaits her.

Getting up early to clean the whole house while the preparation begins, cooking a large amount of food for guests, and not being able to sit down to converse or eat with others since she must attend to everyone and do all the cleaning after they leave.

While her brothers will be sound asleep that morning, sitting, eating, and socializing as she cooks and tends to the guests.

The gender roles she grew up in do not allow her to get along well with her brothers because to her it is unfair but she can’t say anything because her mother considers her lazy.

For any little activity her brothers do there is praise, but if she does the same it is considered her duty.

Most families who behave in the same way get it from a deeper place, an old auntie or grandma who will shame mothers for not ’raising better’ their daughters.

This results in mothers putting more pressure on their daughters, overworking them because they believe that the more work she does, the more praise they will get for raising them as such.

If you pay close attention, you might discover that during family functions, your own family might unconsciously be promoting gender roles.

These gender roles can have a profound impact on the way members of the family interact with each other.

It’s important to be aware of these gender roles and the way they can affect family dynamics so that we can work to promote gender equality even during this season.

Here are a few adjustments you can start with to promote gender equality this festive season:

1. Share the work evenly

This might not be as hard as you think, you can start by asking everyone to name a chore that they enjoy doing.

You can also anonymously give the chores, or let everyone take turns doing chores so that everyone is active.

2. Encourage everyone to speak out when they feel they are being unfairly treated

Create an open space for everyone to feel safe so that they can voice out their issues instead of bottling them up which can result in outbursts or avoiding family gatherings.

3. Put into practice what you preach

Children and young people act as they see their parents or grown-ups do, so if you are encouraging boys that they should share chores with their sisters, make sure that as a father or a male guardian you lead by example.

Achieving gender equality at family parties during festive seasons is not an easy task but girls also need to sit and eat with the rest of the family without feeling guilty that they are being lazy or shaming their mothers.