Reese Witherspoon gave an inspiring speech at the Glamour Women of the Year awards,2015, about how most films today, reduce the role of women to just one line– “What do we do now?” It is astonishingly absurd how readily women have internalized the concept of of being directed by men, and even if it is not true, it is seldom that people are able to view it from a neutral perspective. Our perceptions have been thoroughly marred because of their portrayal in a stereotypical manner. Before we look at the issue of gender equality, it is important to take two things to take into account. Firstly, it must be noted that gender inequality is not an issue which is unknown or against which no actions have been taken. As per a study of United Nations, about two thirds of countries in the developing regions have achieved gender parity in primary education. India too has shown a degree of progress. For instance, this time the mayoral seat in Lucknow has been reserved for women, an occurrence that has not happened in the last 100 years. Secondly, it must be kept in mind that there are a number of successful women, and other women receiving representation. According to a UN study, In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber. There are inspiring women, like Theresa May, Melinda Gates, Indira Nooyi, who have soared to great heights in their respective fields.
So, it must now be wondered if everything is so hunky dory, then what’s the issue? The issue is that of inadequacy. Whatever steps are being taken are far from enough. Even today there are major disparities in terms of the pay that women receive in comparison to men for the same kind of work and the same qualification. After so many years of equality becoming an important agenda of so many governments and organizations why is it that this equality has not been internalized in the variable systems of the different countries? Why is it that women have to fight for maternity leaves, equal pay, equal opportunities? A United Nations study suggests women generally tend to work in lower-paid professions and are less likely to be in highly-paid senior roles in companies,
According to a UN report, in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school. The World Economic Forum estimates that the current equality gap between men and women would take 100 years to close at this rate. This is clearly indicative of the fact that whatever we are doing is not enough. . Evidently, despite the efforts of so many organizations, governments, communities and individuals we are collectively worsening in terms of gender inequalities year after year. Until very recently the women in Saudi Arabia were not even permitted to drive. USA is the unilaterally most powerful nation in the world, but has not had even one women presidents.
We can enjoy living in our delusions of achieving gender equality if we give only the amount of effort that we are currently putting forth. Prioritizing equality among men and women is one that should have been the agenda of political leaders ages ago, and one that should be given continual attention because it is essential for human progress.
In fact, gender equality can reap several economic benefits. According to the World Economic Forum, China could add $2.5 trillion to its GDP if it achieved equality in gender, while the United States could add $1,750 billion, and France and Germany could add more than $300 billion each, along with the UK that could add $250 billion. Besides, it enriches the very basic of all social and political ideals that is the cornerstone of progress- equality for all, without discrimination. I is for us to decide if we want to leave these ideas on paper or if we wish to actually make gender equality a reality.
-Contributed by Richa Bhatt
Picture Credits: thelocal.de