Why is Gender Equality important
Gender equality refers to the equal rights and opportunities across all genders. While it is not a fundamental right it is an important goal to achieve for a peaceful and sustainable society. Not only does gender inequality and especially discrimination against women harm the freedom of an individual as guaranteed by human rights, it also deprives them of the opportunity to realize their potential and contribute to the society in their full capacity. This in turn, as observed by the UNDP, reduces the potential for economic growth and development.
UN Women is an entity of the UN formed with the intention of working for Gender equality and women empowerment. The major aim of this entity is to empower women through upskilling and opportunities and enabling them to live a life free of violence and discrimination.
According to Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020 inequalities for women persist not only in the form of unequal pay and employment opportunities. They also exist in the form of lack of participation and representation in political leadership, inaccessible healthcare leading to greater mortality rate etc. Women are also disproportionately affected by climate change, conflicts and calamities.
This not only halts economic growth and social development but also weakens the community of people who are in the forefront of grassroot level change. That is, women as household caretakers, resource managers and agricultural based, are in the forefront of climate action due to their capability to induce sustainable practices in their everyday work. UNFCCC has also observed greater response and improved outcomes from increased women participation in climate action policies and activities.
Gender equality is important to build a society that is free from poverty and promotes health and education.
Understanding the root cause for Gender inequality
Gender inequality arises from centuries of observed discrimination and subjugation of women. Stemming from unequal rights to unequal pay, the lack of an equal standing with the opposite gender has led to deprived access to educational, healthcare and employment resources for women.
Deeply entrenched discrimination against women in the form of non-recognition of their work, reduced means for financial stability and violence in form of both domestic and sexual have placed women in a disadvantaged and vulnerable spot. Despite feminine images of victory, peace and patriotism the objectification of women prevailed and brought in its wake violence and oppression, especially during times of conflict and migration.
These inequalities remain much unexplored due to the still underwhelming representation of women in political spheres. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that one in every three women faces the possibility of being a victim of violence in their lifetime. This statistic only increased in the pandemic which saw a rise in domestic violence against women. UNDP stated that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 77 cents, highlighting the persisting gender disparity in income.
However the pandemic also saw women in essential service roles of medical professionals such as doctors and especially nurses, roles of caretakers, social workers and handlers of soup kitchens. Women have been in the frontline of fighting the pandemic, along with observed women-led policies garnering great attention in containing the virus, as well as increased representation and acceptance of women in various fields. Therefore the potential for progress remains.
Changemakers fighting for Gender Equality
From celebrities, organizations to UN bodies and NGOs, various sections of the society have become aware regarding the significance of gender equality and thus continue to advocate for and support the notion of women empowerment. UN Women is such an entity of the UN that dedicates itself to strategizing methods of women empowerment. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is an international organization which works closely with activists and policy makers to ensure gender equality across the globe. Equality Now is a legal advocacy organization that works on an international scale to protect and educate regarding women’s rights. Time’s up is an organization that ensures the provision of safe and dignified work for women, in fair situations and a sensitized workplace. Akshara foundation is an Indian organization that focuses on education and employment of women through capacity building workshops and scholarships. Ayzh is another Indian organization that focuses on the provision of sexual health and menstrual hygiene by providing sanitary and healthcare resources to women.
What youth can do as a TAL transformer
Supporting gender equality starts from the self and how you resonate with others and their gender in a society. Preaching equality begins from recognising the efforts of women in our immediate space.
What you as a transformer for the society can do, is use social advocacy, philanthropy and entrepreneurial/business ideas in an innovative manner to provide a progressive direction for reaching the goal. Instances of which are as follows:
- Increase participation in governance. Educate regarding financial autonomy.
- Educate and lobby for reproductive and sexual rights.
- Raise awareness regarding income disparity and promote increased participation in political leadership.
- Grantmaking through a gender lens for women empowerment
- Financially empower women at the frontline facing most vulnerability
- Social impact investment and funding
- A mobile application for safety for women
- Increased access to technological training and digitally sourced jobs
- Workplace equality and sensitization
United Nations (2020). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/
COVID-19: A gender lens: Protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and promoting gender equality
Sustainability Program Manager