Over the years, the UN has continued to champion for gender parity, which is embedded in the fact that it is key to fostering collective peace, justice, prosperity and sustainable worlds. Falling under SDG 5, gender quality is not only recognized as a human right, but it is believed to be the solution for economic inequality, poverty and societal rot.
Particularly the latter part. This is how.
Overtime the conversation around gender parity has led to myths and misconceptions that seem to champion a divide between men and women. The connotation around gender equality is that women are being overly empowered to take up spaces and thus leaving men out of the equation. And what more could fuel this narrative than witnessing women around the world getting into tech, finance into positions of power, leadership and transforming societies?
The result is mixed reactions like we see in the tweets below;
Such opinions only scratch the surface of what most not even an influential few might be thinking when gender parity is mentioned.
On one hand, the argument is that women are given preferential treatment as it is and that gender parity shouldn’t even be an issue. What should be highlighted is equality for men; for sure statistics are different everywhere and we cannot refute that like women, men are also faced with challenges that are varied and broad
On the other hand, we cannot ignore history and the social constructs that women have been raised under. The statistics that back the effects of child marriages, FGM, gender stereotypes, discrimination, lack of access to reproductive health, education, sexual harassment and violence can only tell much.
What is experienced by individuals, whether at the workplace, at homes, in countries, due to the same cultural norms, outdated practices or beliefs is a whole yet another different story.
As the UN emphasizes the truth is that although tremendous milestones have been covered in getting women to the mainstream, in positions of power and leadership, in government (25% women vs 75% men) much has yet to be done.
Perhaps it the comparison of numbers and contrasting men against women that cements the notion that gender parity is a fight against men, but it is not. More than a women issue, gender parity is a global economic, peace, justice and human rights issue.
The fight to get women in positions of power is justified as this is how women can make important decisions that affect them.
For such change to happen, of course financial resources, influence and power is needed. Girls need to be educated and provided with reproductive health materials to stay in school for whole durations as their male counterparts. As of 2020, the UN posits that, 1 in 10 young women are still illiterate.
When it comes to the economic sector, women who make 75% of the global workforce could impact the society widely if they are empowered to take up male dominated spaces such tech,innovation, finances, math, science, and even the government.
But for that to be effective gender pay parity has to be addressed which is currently at 78 cents to 1 dollar for the same exact job.
Someone would ask how does gender parity yield peace and justice?
The answer is if more countries set reforms that address domestic violence, if more quotas of women got in positions of leadership in jurisdictions such as peace and justice then perhaps the push towards a peaceful and sustainable world would be possible.
If you are wondering as a man where does that leave you?
This is also your battle against sexual violence, harassment and gender stereotypes. It is a chance for you as an individual (EachforEquality) to take action and speak up against such matters for they hinder equality and the value both men and women have in realizing thriving societies and economies.
For more resources and how you can take part in I am Generation Equality, visit the International Women’s Day theme for 2020, here.