Essay on Gender Equality

Gender equality: Gender equality refers to the equal valuing of the roles of women and men. It works to overcome the barriers of stereotypes and prejudices so that both sexes are able to equally contribute to and benefit from economic, social, cultural and political developments within society. When women and men have relative equality, economies grow faster and there is less corruption. When women are, healthy and educated, their families, communities and nations benefit.

Gender inequality: Men and women are physically different but it is the social, economic, political and legal interpretation of these differences that lead to inequality between them.

Some examples are outlined below:

Social inequality

Women and men usually have different roles and responsibilities in their daily work. Men tend to do heavier, riskier work that is usually located outside the home. Men's work tends to have a higher status than the work done by women, who have the main responsibility for caring for children and the elderly, and providing food for the family. Women often have unequal access to education and health services.

Social customs that encourage or force girls into teenage marriages and early child bearing have direct and dangerous consequences for their health.

There are high levels of violence against women in all countries around the world. This may be within families where it may be accepted as 'normal'. During armed conflict violence is used to humiliate the enemy and to undermine morale and resistance.

Economic inequality: Nearly 70% of the world's poor people are female, and the number of women living in poverty has increased disproportionately in recent years compared with the number of men.
Women have unequal access to economic resources, such as capital, credit, labor and land, and limited opportunities for employment and career advancement which restricts their ability to improve their economic situation.

Females have unequal access to education and training opportunities, which leads to low literacy levels and employment in unskilled, low status jobs.

Political and legal inequality: Women are very poorly represented at all levels of formal decision making in society, but particularly regional and national levels.

The legal system in many countries discriminates against women in the areas of family law, inheritance, property and land ownership, citizenship and criminal law. The prosecution of cases involving violence against women is particularly difficult.

Addressing inequality: The equality of men and women has been accepted as a fundamental principle of human rights since the adoption of the United Nations Charter in 1945. Many international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), the World Conference on Human Rights (1993) and the Millennium Development Goals (2000) have highlighted the need for countries to take action against discriminatory practices.

The increased focus on women since the International Year for Women (1975) has led to many improvements in the lives of women.

There are a number of approaches to addressing inequity. The 'Women in Development' (WID) approach focuses on women. This helps to raise the knowledge and skills of women to overcome social, economic and political disadvantages but it may increase the workload of women and fail to recognize the role of men as an essential element of change. The 'Gender and Development' (GAD) approach integrates gender planning in all aspects of development programs. It works to understand the impact of the proposed changes on both men and women but it may not always address the specific needs of women and men. Achieving gender equality requires men and women to work together in search of solutions, in ways that encourage mutual respect and trust.