Hergott: Gender inequality plays out in donation efforts

Premier Christy Clark being a notable exception, the majority of influential people in our community happen to be men…

Have you heard of Kent Molgat? He is the CTV journalist who recently broadcast a story about the alleged systemic discrimination of an incredible local charitable group: 100 Men Who Give a Damn.

Systemic discrimination? The background behind this starts with the 100 Women Who Care which was first initiated in Jackson, Mich., in 2008.

The first one-hour meeting of that group raised $10,000 to buy 300 new baby cribs for an organization in their city. Sister chapters have since popped up all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The men’s version started in Halifax in 2014 after the founder of the women’s version in that city presented this challenge to her husband:  “I bet you couldn’t find five men who care.”

The Kelowna women’s version was spawned July 8, 2014. At the inaugural meeting, 60 women attended, each donating $50 to raise $3,000 for a women’s shelter.

The inaugural meeting of the Kelowna men’s version was in August, 2015. With a higher individual donation amount of $100 and 200 people attending, that first meeting raised $20,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

With reportedly now about 349 members, a virtual “who’s who” of influential men in Kelowna, the next meeting on Feb. 2 could raise up to $34,900 to donate to a worthy cause.

Men’s 100 group co-founder Brett Millard feels that the media attention “will only help in the long-term because it shines a light on the positive work being done.”

Absolutely. And just wait to see where this battle of the sexes will take us. I bet the next women’s meeting will have even more members and raise even more money for a good cause.

Or, maybe not. Maybe the men’s group has a smidge of an advantage. Why? (Don’t shoot me, ladies!) Because they’re men.

There’s a touch of a recruiting advantage.

Premier Christy Clark being a notable exception, the majority of influential people in our community happen to be men, and men tend to have more money to throw around.

An Oct. 9, 2015, Globe and Mail article notes: “Canadian women still take home on average 73 cents for every dollar men earn, even as educational attainment has surpassed their male counterparts.”

Encouraging strides have been made towards gender equality, but it’s indisputable that women continue to face an uphill battle.

Women have been well prepared for the challenge, though; fighting uphill every step of the way for the right to vote, to break the glass ceiling into the corporate world and into the world of politics.

That continual uphill slope is what is called systemic discrimination.

And yes, of course this incredible men’s 100 group is perpetuating it.

But I feel certain that every one of the men who are throwing $100 on the barrel for charity every three months is doing so out of the altruistic motivation of doing good for our community.

I am willing to bet, and bet big, that not one of them is intending to perpetuate the systemic discrimination of women.

That’s why it’s called “systemic.” Preferential treatment of men has long been woven into the fabric of our society.

Unfortunately, this leads to often inadvertent preference and entitlement that can be addressed only if it is recognized for what it is.

We learned decades ago that we need to take active steps to counter it, such as affirmative action.

Those steps are moving us, though very slowly, in the right direction.

This men’s group, as well-meaning as it is, takes us a step backwards.

Do we throw the baby out with the bath water?

Hell no! How about a gender inclusive group: “100 beautiful human beings who give back.”

Yes, you could come up with a much better name but the idea remains sound.

Thank you, Kent Molgat, for taking it hard on the chin for gender equality in our community.

With this column, I’m sure to join you in the ‘doghouse’ of public opinion, and I’ll accept that.