Beijing+30 Youth Blog: Empowering voices: Breaking the silence on women’s rights and gender stereotypes


Author: Raina Shafaa

Raina Shafaa, 20, Indonesia.
Raina Shafaa, 20, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Alda Mile.

Women’s empowerment is a matter that deeply concerns me as I grow weary of witnessing frequent cases of injustice towards women, particularly in my country, Indonesia. It baffles me why some individuals engage in such vile actions. Women are not mere objects but individuals deserving respect and dignity! I frequently observe women being subjected to derogatory terms, which is completely inappropriate. It’s disheartening that people can use such words without any remorse.

A vivid memory etched in my mind is an incident from four years ago. While waiting for my parents at a supermarket, I sensed a man behind me, and it felt like he grabbed my butt. The incident happened swiftly, leaving an indelible scar in my memory. I want the world to know that such actions should never happen to women.

My reluctance to speak out in the moment was fuelled by the fear of not being believed. But now I realize the importance of raising my voice against injustice. To all victims of sexual harassment, I extend my heartfelt apologies. I understand the emotional turmoil that accompanies such experiences. It’s crucial not to blame victims but instead to offer trust and protection. Timely reporting of harassment is imperative, as waiting only perpetuates the problem.

Drawing inspiration from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted in 1995, which underscores the significance of addressing violence against women, I can’t bear to witness ongoing incidents of sexual harassment. Here are four actionable steps to combat it:

  1. Don’t stay silent when witnessing harassment; call out the perpetrator.
  2. Speak out against harassment and consider launching a campaign.
  3. Challenge sexist excuses like “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls.”
  4. Don’t hesitate to raise your voice; your perspective matters.

There is much we can do collectively to eradicate sexual harassment. Treating others with respect is fundamental to building a safer society.

Shifting gears, let’s address gender stereotypes. It’s disheartening to see that gender stereotypes are still prevalent here in Indonesia. The notion that girls shouldn’t pursue higher education due to predefined roles is outdated. Everyone deserves an education, irrespective of gender.

It’s time to dismantle the barriers holding us back. We can contribute to breaking gender stereotypes in simple ways. Tasks at home should not be gender-assigned. Cooking and washing dishes are skills everyone should possess, irrespective of gender. Let’s challenge these norms and foster a more inclusive mindset.

Lau Yuen Tung Chloe, 23

Raina Shafaa, 20, is a passionate advocate for women’s rights and gender equality from Indonesia, who uses her voice to address crucial issues and strives to combat gender stereotypes through her advocacy. Raina has been a powerful voice on Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s digital platform, where her writings resonate with a wide audience, fostering awareness and understanding. In her relentless pursuit of change, Raina has joined the DoSomething organization, where she raises her voice for issues like equality and discrimination. Raina’s blog reflects not only her personal journey, but also her broader engagement in advocating for a more equitable and just society.

Instagram @rainashafaa