Research shows that the world has a long way to go to achieve gender equality. Despite decades of progress, millions of women and girls still deal with violence and discrimination. Steps like closing the gender pay gap and promoting girls’ education make a huge difference. While most believe that gender equality is a worthy goal, why is it good for everyone? Why should it be such a high priority?
Gender equality gives everyone equal opportunities
Education is the key to equal opportunities. In today’s world, more boys than girls are educated. According to UNICEF, around 1 in 4 girls between 15-19 years old don’t have a job and are not getting an education or training. For boys, that ratio is 1 in 10. Right from the beginning, this gives boys better opportunities than girls. Without many options, girls are often forced into marriages or human trafficking. It is also much harder to leave dangerous relationships and situations without education to fall back on. When gender equality starts with education, everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives.
Gender equality is good for children
Reproductive rights are a key part of gender equality. When women make their own reproductive choices, their lives improve. They are then able to better care for the children they do choose to have. Having equal pay with men, women can provide better healthcare, better food, and better opportunities for their kids. Even if a mother chooses to stay at home with her children, the effects of gender equality (like equal pay and education) provide a safety net in case she does need to go to work. Studies also show that infant mortality rates decrease as a woman’s education level increases. In a world with gender equality, children are set up for success and happiness.
Gender equality is good for marginalized racial groups
Gender-based discrimination has a close relationship with racial discrimination. In most places, women belonging to marginalized racial groups are treated less equal than other women. The gender pay gap is a prime example. In the United States, Asian and Caucasian women earn more than Hispanic, black, and native women. White women are also more likely to get better healthcare and better job opportunities. That’s why gender equality must be intersectional. This requires an acknowledgment of different experiences, identities, and the unique discriminations women face. Striving for intersectional gender equality can help reduce racial discrimination and inequality wherever it’s found.
Gender equality is good for men
Gender equality doesn’t only benefit girls and women; it benefits men, as well. There are a few key reasons. A man who is perceived as “feminine” is not a “real man” when gender inequality exists. This leads to toxic masculinity, which is destructive and harmful to everyone. When there’s gender equality, men have more freedom about how they express themselves. This extends into the career field, as well, since no job is considered “for women only.” Men receive parental leave and family time without discrimination. Increased freedom of expression and flexible work choices leads to happiness. With gender equality, men don’t face as much pressure to fit a stereotype.
Gender equality is good for business and the economy
When girls and women get equal education and job opportunities with men, all of society benefits. Studies reveal that a diverse workplace is a more productive workplace. That diversity includes gender diversity. There’s research that shows specifically that businesses that put some women in the top leadership roles do better than businesses with only men in leadership. That success translates into the economy as a whole. Closing up gender pay gaps saves a country money. Equal education and jobs also significantly reduce poverty rates, lifting an entire nation and improving its GDP.
Gender equality fosters peace
Violence disrupts society at every level. Gender inequality is the source of a lot of violence including human trafficking and a lack of legal protections for abused women. Improving equality for girls and women can reduce the amount of violence and provide security for those who are vulnerable. Research also shows that gender equality is a better indicator of a country’s likelihood to deploy military force than its GDP. As gender equality improves, a country’s peace improves. In turn, this is important for gender equality because war disproportionately affects women.
Gender equality: it’s good for everyone
Children, women, and men benefit from gender equality. It also addresses racial discrimination and improves business and the economy. While it will be some time before gender equality is a reality around the world, we’ve made enough progress to see its benefits in action. The goal now is to keep promoting gender equality while replacing old systems based on discrimination and outdated mindsets.