In the current era of unprecedented technological advancement and societal progression, it is both perplexing and disheartening to witness the persistent struggle for gender equality. The notion that we have achieved gender equality is a mirage that disguises the hard truths of discrimination, prejudice, and disparity that continue to pervade societies globally.
Despite having come far from the days when women were denied basic rights such as education and suffrage, the modern world still grapples with systemic gender bias. The gender pay gap, for instance, remains a glaring evidence of inequality. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, it would take an estimated 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide if we continue at the current pace. This is a stark reminder that our journey towards equality is far from complete.
Moreover, in boardrooms and political arenas across the world, women continue to be underrepresented. According to the United Nations, as of 2021, women made up less than a quarter of parliamentarians worldwide. In the corporate sector, the situation is no better, with women accounting for only 29% of senior management roles globally, according to a study by Grant Thornton. This underrepresentation underscores systemic barriers hindering women's progress, and is an issue that requires urgent attention.
However, the struggle for gender equality is not just a women’s issue. It is a human rights issue that affects us all. Gender stereotypes and expectations also unfairly limit men, who often feel pressured to conform to traditional masculine norms. The harmful consequences of these societal pressures are evident in higher rates of suicide among men and lower life expectancies compared to women.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the fight for gender equality extends beyond the binary. The rights and recognition of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals are often overlooked. The discrimination and violence faced by these communities are stark reminders that the struggle for gender equality is broader and more complex than often recognized.
Progress, however, is not merely a dream. Across the globe, we see glimmers of hope in the form of policies advocating for equal pay, initiatives encouraging women's participation in leadership roles, and increased societal recognition of the rights of transgender and non-binary individuals. These advancements are commendable, yet there is a long road ahead.
Gender equality is not a zero-sum game. It is not about taking from one to give to another, but about ensuring equal opportunities, rights, and respect for all, regardless of gender. It is about recognizing that every individual has unique capabilities and talents that should be nurtured and valued equally.
To navigate the path forwards, we need concerted efforts from governments, corporations, and individuals. We must challenge outdated stereotypes, support policies that promote equality, and foster an inclusive culture that values diversity.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right that all people in a given society are entitled to. It includes justice and equality among all the members of the society. Gender equality is crucial in order to achieve vision of a society where everyone has an equal right to survival, security, growth, and participation. Over the years gender equality and women emancipation have been at centre stage in almost all progressive political ideologies.
While as in the developed countries, the campaigns have not been much spectacular in the last few decades owing to their assimilation (women’s) in most of the human endeavors, social and political processes, the demands for rights and liberation of women from the shackles imposed by society, communities and institutions of power. Amid the agreements and disagreements on what truly constitutes women empowerment and emancipation, some leeway has been observed with the clash of cultural values. Since the idea of women's emancipation began to take root and later evolved into a global trend, many people have debated the subject, and the debate has really exploded.
The symphony of gender equality is unfinished. Its completion requires every one of us to play our part. Let us strive to create a world where gender does not determine one’s opportunities or limitations - a world where equality is not an ideal, but a reality. The time to act is now. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to ensure the melody of equality resonates across all corners of the globe.
(Author is lecturer, columnist and social activist