Gender equality is not only a human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world as envisioned by the UN’s 2030 Agenda. The Gender Alliance is an initiative that pushes for a feminist agenda to foster gender equity in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5. Imran Simmins is one of its members.
Who are you?
Imran Simmins: My name is Imran Simmins and I am from South Africa.
Why did you join the Gender Alliance, and what is most important for you?
Imran Simmins: From my early teens, I was an activist against apartheid. Going through the movements I became aware of the inequalities that the apartheid system had designed not only against those who were not white, but even within our own society men oppressed women. I saw this, I lived this, but then I also saw my mother rise above it all and ensure that all her three children succeeded, which deeply inspired me. As I grew older I also came to understand that gender equity is part of the Islamic doctrine that, however, seems to be not practiced enough in the faith. So, in short, I owe it to my faith as a Muslim male, my mother, and my life experiences to ensure that issues of injustice and in particular those meted out against women of color are forever raised and enforced. I am here also to learn how to be more aware of my own mistakes, and to address my own male privilege.
The Gender Alliance is a network-driven initiative to bring feminists together to accelerate gender equality. Its members come from the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, the Global Diplomacy Lab, and the Robert Bosch Foundation. Together, they strive to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals on gender equity and equality within their respective organizations, communities, and spheres of influence. This series is an effort to amplify amazing women and men who are pushing boundaries every day, personally and professionally.
What work do you do to promote gender equality?
Honestly? Not enough, sadly. But in my professional capacity I constantly raise questions around lack of gender equity representation in meetings, on panels, and at places I visit. I used to raise
these issues on social media, but I didn’t find it effective. Personally I spend a lot of time with my children – two daughters and a son – making them aware of the injustices that exist in our society around issues of race and gender and most notably women of color.
Watch this video with Imran Simmins on the legacy of apartheid:
What is your desired outcome of the Gender Alliance?
Imran Simmins: As members of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, we not only raise this matter at international platforms. We are also actively promoting this from an organizational perspective by inviting the entire BMW Group as well as the BMW Foundation to reflect diversity in their boards. I also want us to understand that women of color are enduring more and that we need to do more to address this. This fight is not equal by any stretch of the imagination and this needs to come to the fore.
SDG #5 Gender Equality
Through Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the UN 2030 Agenda, the international community aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls who represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. However, gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress. Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.
What does an equal world look like?
Imran Simmins: It is a place where people are judged on merit but only after the imbalances of the past have been adequately acknowledged and addressed.
Any advice to your 15-year-old self?
Imran Simmins: Your fight against injustice is not only against white domination but against white male domination. So continue to rage against this machine but know that you are more privileged than your sisters in the movement.