Why gender equality is good for the world
Nations around the world have taken steps and instituted changes that lead to greater gender equality, and this is a momentous improvement in the push for wider human rights globally. However, there is still a long way to go, as one step forward seems to be followed by two steps back.
For example, the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty, or the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), established by the United Nations in 1979, has been ratified by all but a handful of countries, including Iran, Sudan, and the United States. Though President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty in 1980, the U.S. Senate has never ratified it. Women and girls are still on their own, even in so-called first-world societies. Although gender equality would seem to be a simple issue, as basic rights are inherent to all humans, persistent traditional beliefs make this matter incredibly complex.
Fundamental Human Dignity
The issue of women’s rights is not merely one of ideology. Gender equality is the very foundation stone upon which a peaceful, flourishing world can be built and nourished. Still, though, despite steps forward, women and girls continue to endure violence and fierce discrimination around the world. What are the issues that nations balk at when it comes to giving rights to females—rights that build and feed strong economies and seed a better world for all of humanity? These matters that so trouble nations include equal access for women and girls to:
- Health care
- Decent work and working conditions
- Representation in political and economic decision-making
When girls are forced to marry at extremely young ages, they are denied any form of education that could help them enter the labor force, not only a personal handicap but also a national one. Gender equality is not a luxury. It is a necessity for any society seeking long-term sustainability and any hope of peace.
Why Gender Equality Matters
Women and girls make up half of the global population. Therefore, they also represent half of the world’s potential, yet the persistence of gender inequality means that societies around the globe stagnate. Ironically, nations and governments that insist on holding women back and keeping them out of the labor force are holding back significant economic growth. If women participated fully in the workforce, they would add measurable percentage points to national growth rates—often double digits. Yet, even in the light of such information, discrimination still matters more than short-term profits and long-term viability to some nations.
Sadly, hostility and cruelty against women and girls persists around the world. Globally, more than 30 percent of women and girls have endured physical or sexual violence, or both, from intimate partners as well as violent strangers.
In addition, almost unbelievably, more than 130 million women and girls have suffered some form of genital mutilation. This risky and injurious practice can lead to prolonged bleeding, infection (including HIV), infertility, problems in childbirth, and death.
Does Gender Equality Really Matter?
Yes, it does—to everyone, everywhere. Freedom to live and grow is a fundamental human right that everyone is born with, regardless of gender. Human rights are inherent, not gifts granted by governments. Yet so much of the world still refuses to acknowledge this. There are those on the front line—organizations and individual experts, like Thor halvorssen—who push back against the bleak waves of discrimination against women and girls. However, everyone—male and female—must add their voices to the chorus calling for a new day when men and women are recognized as what they are—equal.
Equal Education Makes Cents
Nations that invest in equal education for girls and raise the age when girls are eligible for marriage may see as much as a $5 return for every dollar spent. When countries focus on creating programs that offer good income-generating work for women, they could see as much as $7 returned on every dollar invested in such efforts. Everyone around the world, male and female, can take steps to counteract gender inequality.
How Girls can Resist Gender Discrimination
Girls can show they value knowledge as well as their freedom by staying in school and encouraging their female classmates to do the same. Girls also can demand and fight for their rights to have reproductive and sexual health care services. The important point is that girls around the world stand together and stand up for themselves as having as much right to a good life as their male counterparts.
How Women can Resist Gender Discrimination
Women can push against the global problem of gender inequality by challenging injustice and partiality, even when practiced unconsciously, throughout society. Eliminating the common and sometimes even automatic discriminatory responses people have against women—including those held by other women, for whatever reason—is vital to achieving a sustainable, prospering world for everyone.
How Males can Resist Gender Discrimination
Men and boys can willingly and respectfully work beside women and girls to eliminate all forms of gender bias and inequality. Males also can accept and adopt ways to promote healthy, loving relationships that honor everyone. In addition, men can work for and endorse laws that give women and girls opportunities to reach their full potential. Doing such things shows foresight as well as caring.
Rebelling against ideas that women and girls are somehow less valuable than males is the start of ending senseless discrimination that is carried from generation to generation simply because no one stops to question why it is so. The ultimate goal is to achieve a world where women, girls, men, and boys stand side by side, together. Such a world can live in peace, prosper, and look to the future with nothing but hope.