Issues

What Does Gender Equality Mean?

The world’s gender ratio is around 50:50, but you don’t need to be an expert to know that women are marginalized. Studies show that it will take a century to close the global pay gap. Despite decades of progress, gender equality remains distant. What does gender equality truly mean? And how do we get there?

Gender equality: a definition

Gender equality means that all genders are free to pursue whatever career, lifestyle choice, and abilities they want without discrimination. Their rights, opportunities, and access to society are not different based on their gender. Gender equality does not necessarily mean that everyone is treated exactly the same. Their different needs and dreams are valued equally. Gender equity is often discussed at the same time as gender equality for this reason. Since society has favored men for so long, men have many advantages. Equity fills in the gaps so everyone else can “catch up” to men. It addresses discrimination and imbalances in society so that equality can become a reality.

Benefits of gender equality

Achieving gender equality will have a significant positive impact on the world. Here are just a few of the benefits:

#1 Better business

Studies show that gender diversity improves an organization’s innovation and productivity. When women are given equal education (and as a result, equal job opportunities) compared to men, the businesses they join thrive.

#2 Better economy

When women can participate in the economy in the same way as men, the economy does better. Closing the gender pay gap plays a significant role in this. Studies show that if OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries matched Sweden in their female employment rates, the GDP would increase by $6 trillion.

#3 Reduced poverty

Girls and women make up the world’s poorest populations. Because they aren’t given equal education, job opportunities, and income, cycles of poverty repeat themselves. By giving women the same opportunities as men, it would raise up entire families from poverty and reduce the world’s poverty rate.

#4 Better health

Because of barriers like income and lack of education, access to good healthcare is often challenging for women. Even without those obstacles, women are often not taken seriously. There’s also less research on conditions that mostly affect women. If gender equality became realized in healthcare, women would get better care, leading to improvements in a society’s overall health. Studies also show that gender equality has a link to the improvement of children’s health. Women with equal education and income can care for their children better.

What does gender equality look like?

What would gender equality mean in practice? How would the world be different? Here are just a few of the outcomes:

More girls would be educated

A lack of education is one of the most significant results of gender inequality. If girls’ education was given the same priority as boys’, more girls would be in school. This would set them up for better job opportunities and income in the future.

More women would be in the workplace (and workplace leadership)

Currently, women are not as represented as men in the workplace, especially in leadership. If barriers to their success were removed, they would be better represented.

Families would be stronger

Men are negatively affected by gender inequality. This is especially clear when it comes to paid family leave. Because women are considered the primary caregivers for children, men are often unable to get time off. This is also true when it comes to caring for older family members. If both men and women were able to take time off for family without discrimination based on gender, it would strengthen families.

More women would participate in politics

Most political systems are still biased in favor of men. If gender equality was realized, the world would see a lot more women engaged in the political process. This includes political leadership.

How can we make gender equality a reality?

The world is a long way from achieving gender equality. What needs to happen for it to become real? There are three essential actions:

Awareness

The first step toward any progress is awareness. If a society isn’t able to acknowledge gender inequality, changes will be nearly impossible. To make gender equality a reality, people need to be aware of the current state of affairs and the benefits of change.

Education

Many believe that the most significant obstacle to gender equality is unequal access to education. Without the same education as boys, girls are limited in their income and job prospects. This has a domino effect in every area of their lives. To tackle gender inequality at the start, education for girls and women needs to be a top priority.

Legislative support

There are many laws and systems in place that fuel gender inequality. To break those systems down, laws that discriminate need to be repealed and new laws put in place. These laws hold organizations and institutions accountable. Governments, legislators, and activists all play a part in this process.

About the author

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Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.