Gender equality refers to providing equal rights, opportunities, and fair treatment to all individuals, regardless of gender. It aims to ensure that all individuals have equal access to opportunities, resources, and protection, regardless of their gender. This includes equal access to education, employment, healthcare, political representation, and legal rights. Gender equality also entails confronting and dismantling the societal expectations and norms that promote gender-based discrimination and bias. There has been progress over the years towards gender equality, but the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity or Embrace Equity. According to the International Women’s Day website, “Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.”
On a global scale, women are afforded fewer prospects for economic involvement than men, have restricted access to fundamental and advanced education, are at greater risk of health and safety hazards, and are underrepresented politically. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that women are afforded their rights and presented with opportunities to reach their maximum potential, not just to accomplish gender equality but also to achieve various international development objectives.
Gender equality is important for several reasons. First, it promotes social justice by ensuring equal access to opportunities, resources, and protections for all individuals. This is critical for establishing a just and equitable society that values diversity and inclusion. Secondly, gender equality enables political empowerment. The representation of women in government and other decision-making bodies ensures that their opinions are voiced, and their concerns are taken into account.
Considerable advancement has been made in recent years towards attaining gender equality. This includes greater female workforce participation and an increase in the number of women in leadership positions in politics and business. Moreover, numerous countries have instituted measures and strategies geared towards advancing gender equality, such as regulations prohibiting gender-based violence and discrimination, as well as initiatives promoting women’s education and economic empowerment.
Despite the headway that has been made, considerable obstacles still exist. For example, gender-based violence and discrimination continue to be pervasive in many parts of the world, and women are still underrepresented in numerous domains, including politics and business. In addition, women continue to receive less compensation than men for equal work and are frequently found in low-paying jobs with limited prospects for advancement.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities that already existed, with women bearing a disproportionate impact from job losses and increased caregiving duties. According to the United Nations, “Up to 10 million more girls are likely to become child brides by 2030 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the 100 million girls projected to be at risk before the pandemic.” This has highlighted the need for continued efforts to promote gender equality and ensure women are not left behind.
In order for a country to progress effectively, both genders must be regarded with equal worth. A society makes considerable advancements in all spheres when both genders are given identical prospects. Our society can undoubtedly make significant strides towards progress by ensuring equal rights in decision-making, health, politics, infrastructure, profession, and other domains.