Everyone in this world just wants to be treated fairly and have the same amount of respect regardless if you’re a male or a female. That’s where gender equality comes in the picture. Also known as sexual equality, it’s the state of equal ease to access to resources and opportunities regardless of your gender. Having including financial terms and roles a certain gender, it’s no wonder there is a sea of people fighting for their equal rights.
People have this perception of what a certain gender role should be doing. For example, not all women are destined to succumbing to the role of being a housewife, and not an only man can join the army/military. Things have changed since the earlier stages where women especially have voiced their opinions out on things like unfair treatment, unequal pay at work and many more. The cultural shift that’s happening now is impacting a whole new modern-day change that is reaching to new heights.
The United Nations has been a supporter of gender equality and it’s spot for women empowerment to start branching out. According to an article they wrote, gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Unfortunately, at the current time, 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15-49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period and 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.
Thus in helping women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work environment and good representation and exposure in the political and economic is important to keep the equality ball rolling for an individual.
- More than 100 countries have taken action to track budget allocations for gender equality.
- In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence. (source: www.un.org)
- Two-thirds of all children denied school are girls, and 75 per cent of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women.
- By 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs in the U.S. and, at the current rate of students graduating with degrees in computer science, men will outnumber women 4:1. (source: Microsoft Research)
- 113 countries do not have laws to ensure equal pay for equal work among men and women. (Source: Pan Macmillan)
Protest Around The World On Gender Equality
Women all over the world have gone out to the streets to protest their rights and the inequality of their country’s system. Take, for example, in June 2019, tens of thousands of women have a general strike in Switzerland to demand gender equality. Some of the demands presented were on equal pay. Equal opportunities, and equal space in the public sphere. Although Switzerland is placed top 20 in the World’s Economic Forum of countries on gender equality it protests that rang in people from all over Swiss remains a different perspective altogether.
Where else in India, a place that’s notorious for its gender inequality especially for the women staying there. Being in one of the top 10 worst countries for gender equality, it’s time for India to step up and voice their opinion, and that’s what they did. A rather unique protest, the women in India formed a 620-kilometre human wall to protest against this issue. On New Year’s Day 2019, approximately 5 million women stood shoulder to shoulder across the length of the southern state of Kerala in a peaceful protest. It all started when women aren’t allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple which is an important pilgrimage site for many Hindus. Many celebrities and politicians have rendered their support for this protest.
During the International Women’s Day this year in Brazil, the people of Brazil held a protest, mostly women, took to the streets calling for gender equality and an end to violence against women. Brazil is among the five countries with the highest number of murdered women in the world, according to the Brazillian Forum on Public Security. They are also in protest for their Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro whose past comments seem homophobic and sexist by many. Some to the point of calling women out as idiots, and tramps.
The main aim of the protest that was held in Seoul, where thousands of women attended by wearing red shirts was to protest against the illegal filming of women and investigations of sex crimes they say would favour men. The biased investigation refers back to the so-called “Male nude model spy camera” case. It turns out that women secretly took a picture of the male nude model and uploaded it to a community website. The perpetrator was immediately arrested and it angered the people of South Korea even more. Why? They are tons of thousands of hidden camera cases where the female is the victim and the case goes unsolved or without arrest. It was done to tell the authorities to stop doing a bias investigation.
A Culture That’s Taking Its Toll on Women
When it comes to certain cultures that have passed down from generation to generation, there is just some culture that may seem heinous to us and not all women have to suffer or sacrifice themselves in the name of tradition/ law.
What is honor killing exactly? According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, it is the murder of a woman or girl by male family members. The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family name or prestige. The activities of girls and women are closely monitored and the maintenance of a girl’s innocence and virginity are considered to be the “responsibility” of male relatives. Normally, honor killing happens when a woman or girl in the family engages in sexual immorality acts which also includes conversing with men who are not related to them.
Since 2016, there have been 69 reported honor killings in India alone. Almost such crimes normally go unreported, the United Nations Population Fund estimates that as many as 5,000 women are killed annually for reasons of honor. Most commonplace for honor killing to happen is in the Middle East, India, and Pakistan.
Take one example of a case that happened in Pakistan, where a man in Peshawar killed his two daughters because he thought they had boyfriends and felt ashamed by it.
It wasn’t only till the public protests after Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani model, was killed by her brother that the parliament passed an anti-honor killing law. The law ensures that women and girls have access to emergency shelters and harsher punishment to the perpetrators.
Female Genital Mutilation
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. There’s a sociocultural factor that happens behind this. In some community, it is believed to be a necessary part of raising a girl and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. Some think it’s needed to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity.
Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and adolescence. FGM has heavily concentrated around in areas like Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It’s still a global concern that still needs awareness.
Women on “No Driving Policy”
For many years, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that states women are not allowed to drive – according to their law. Women who drove in public would risk being arrested and fined. Human rights groups there have campaigned for years to allow women to drive such as #Women2drive and Loujain al-Hathloul – a woman who was imprisoned for more than two months for driving a car into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates in 2014. BBC News reported that at least eight women’s rights activist are being detained and could face trial in a counter-terrorism court and long prison sentences for their activism, human rights group Amnesty says.
It was not until a couple of years back that the ban has been lifted and Saudi Arabia issued the first licenses to women earlier this month. This decision is made by King Salman who has fought for years to get this law changed.
“Women Belongs In The Kitchen”
Many years people often believed that women only belong in the kitchen and is confined to certain ‘feminine’ role. This perception is certainly ancient and for years, women have been breaking boundaries and being a daily inspiration for many people out there. From leaders to activist, artist to space explorers, these women have become a symbol of hope for many champions out there.
Put aside her stunning beauty, Cleopatra defines strength, determination and was in power when it was an age where a man was in command. Till today, Cleopatra is regarded as a legacy of power.
The resiliency of her to refuse to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus during the segregation era made her a figurehead for the civil rights movement. Her fearlessness earned her the respect everyone should have no matter your gender or race.
She was shot three times in the head and survived. Now becoming a global icon around the world for standing up for education for girls and earning the Nobel Peace Prize. She was only 17 years old when she received that award.
Valentina, a former textile worker from the Soviet Union became the first woman in space, orbiting the earth forty-eight times.
Being an ambassador for education for girls and equal rights, this former first lady of the United States is here to prove a point. That women can do anything! She recently was also the most admired woman in the world according to a poll.
Top 10 Best Countries for Gender Equality
Every year, the debate and fight to gender equality heighten, some of this country are doing their best at ensuring equality is being served to all. The following list is based on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Report. They are scored based on economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.
As a newbie in this list, this southwest African country jumped three sports in one year to make it to the top 10 of countries of the best gender equality. The big jump is largely influenced by the country’s significant advances in women occupying parliamentary seats. The government’s dedication to ensuring the gender equality action is being taken, they were awarded the African Gender Award for its progress in promoting women’s representation in positions of power.
Beautiful Ireland earns it’s the spot in the number 9 this time as the country managed to close more than 79% of its overall gender gap. They prioritise in equal economic independence for women and men, equality in decision-making and equal pay at work.
Leading the Asia country for best in gender equality, Philippines is the bright spot in this list. As you can see from the news, the Philippines are heavily represented by women in business than in neighbouring countries. It also ranked them due to improvements in wage equality for an equal value of work and better college enrollment rates.
7. New Zealand
Gender Equal NZ is focused on four key areas to improve their equality more. Economic dependence, safety & health, education and influence & decision making. When it comes to the education part, nearly equal shares of the male and female population have primary and secondary education, and slightly more women have a college degree.
It may not be a likely country to be in the list, but Rwanda beats the United States and France in the best country to reside in for gender equality. Why? Rwanda has one of the highest rates of female labour force participation in the world where there’s always employment available. This part was also due to its roots in the country’s devastating genocide. Besides that, even the women in Rwanda earn 88 cents for every dollar men do; in the US, it’s just 74 cents.
Nicaragua has an 80.9 per cent rate of equality between men and women, according to the Index. In 2006, Nicaragua was in 62nd position in the same ranking. They have definitely raised a lot from the last time and it’s all due from their equal proportions in the world of women in parliament and its health and survival measures.
Finland is a gender equality pioneer. It was also the first country to grant women full political rights back in the year of 1906. Ever since then, the fight to attain equality was always there. Step to the present time, the country established the world’s first International Gender Equality Prize, which is given to a person or an organization that has a significant impact in advancing gender equality across the world. The award will highlight the fact that the whole international community needs to work for gender equality more persistently than ever and to set examples so that gender equality is realized.
Sweden is pretty much the world’s first feminist government. About 12 of the 22 government ministers are women. Their practice simply is this, for a means of commitment to building a society in which women and men, girls and boys can live their lives to their full potential. However, women are still underrepresented in business. For example, in 2016, over 80% of managers at Swedish companies listed on the stock market were men and no new company had a female boss.
Norway has always kept it’s standard for one of the best countries for gender equality. Although still a number of challenges arise to remain gender equality in place the Norwegian strategy to achieve equality between men and women includes both gender mainstreaming and gender-specific actions. For example, employers are allowed to choose a woman over a man for a job if she is almost as well qualified. Similarly, men can be chosen over women in occupations related to childcare, where men are underrepresented.
Iceland takes the spot for the best country for gender equality for the 10th year in a row. This small island ranks first as their wage equality, the share of women who work in the professional setting and political empowerment is their top priority. Iceland became the first country in the world to elect a woman as president and became known as “the world’s most feminist country.” As of 2018, 88% of working-age women are employed, 65% of students attending university are female, and 41% of members of parliament are women.
What is Malaysia doing when it comes to gender equality?
Let’s look at the problems now.
In a world that revolves around money, it’s only fitting that the gender pay gap is one of the issues that’s being highlighted in Malaysia. Based on the Salary and Wages 2016 Report released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the average gender pay gap in Malaysia is 21%, meaning that female employees are basically working for free every Friday of the week! Shocking isn’t it? The median monthly salary for men has increased by 7.3% whereas it has only gone up by 5.2% for women.
Socio-political activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir even said in a keynote address at Zubedy’s #EmpowerSomethingNice forum, she said “In Malaysia, men are a privileged lot. If men are successful at work, can buy a house and a nice car they have succeeded. Then she goes on by saying “yet men are disadvantaged in so many ways because society wants them to behave in a certain way and men must be successful in a certain way. If a man can’t feed his family, or cannot afford to buy a house while owning a nice car he is considered to be less successful.
“Men suffer more from lifestyle diseases compared to women because of the intense stress they face in trying to fulfil society’s expectations of them,” said Marina.
“How do we sort this? We need to recalibrate gender home for greater harmony at home. The only real solution is that we must treat husband and wife as equal partners who are able to pursue their own opportunities, thus creating greater potential.
“This cannot be done overnight. It needs to start from young — sons and daughters must be treated as equals and gender stereotype discouraged. For instance, boys should be able to cook while girls are allowed to play football and both must do housework,” said Marina.
(source: malaymail online, 25 August 2018).
Recently, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has formed a special projects team to ensure laws relating to gender equality is being played out fairly. An outline of the law on gender equality must be formed with consideration given to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which was the first form in 1995.
“It will also take into consideration existing laws in Malaysia such as Article pensive of the Federal Constitution and look at the examples of laws on gender equality in other countries like the Philippines, India and Vietnam,”.
(source: New Straits Times Online, April 9,2019)
My 2cents on Gender Equality
What exactly is gender equality if you ask me? It’s providing the best care and fair treatment regardless of your race, gender and religion. However, many seem to misinterpret gender equality as more for the feminist movement. It’s true that women have been paving the way for many opportunities to be given to them ever since women has been vocal on this issue and that’s amazing. However, in the process of gender equality being carried out all over the world, some of the many people stigmatise and condemn the male community.
“man up”, “boys don’t cry”, “the colour blue is for boys only”
These are some of the words that would hinder a boy to a man to act in a certain way. Boys aren’t just told to hide their vulnerability, but as well as what games do they need to play and wearing a certain colour so it wouldn’t look “gay” to them. There’s also the point where a man is supposed to provide for their family and earn more money. This would leave only more pressure to them and eventually would bottle up and act “macho” because society says they can’t cry. Overtime when this happens, they are less likely to seek professional help or talk to someone about their problems and are likely to commit suicide or develop some sort of mental illness.
According to The Star, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the national statistics show that men outnumber women three to one when it comes to suicide.
According to the menshealthforum.org.uk:
- Men are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol. For alcohol, men are nearly three times more likely to become dependent on it than women.
- 73% of adults who go missing are men
- Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 25
“It’s not gender equality if women’s issues are being highlighted but men’s struggles is being laughed at” -Anonymous-
“Equal rights go together with equal responsibilities” -Anonymous-
Boys, men, this I say to you, it’s okay to cry it out. It’s never wrong in expressing your feelings or yourself. With you breaking stereotypical norms of what man should do, it’s not a sign of weakness but rather bravery.
If you feel like wearing a pink shirt today, do it! If you want to grow your hair a little longer, do it! If you want to see a therapist, go do it! There is nothing stopping you from achieving happiness for yourself.
I’ve written about equality when it comes to who should make the first move. Check it out more at www.2cents.my website with the title “Chivalry Ain’t Dead” Should Apply For A Woman Too Instead Only For A Man”.
At the end of the day, women and men should be treated as equals.