Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Written by: Giada Tirocinio
On a global scale, women are considered as “less than” men, have fewer opportunities for economic participation, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks and less political representation. When we talk about gender equality, we are considering a reality where men and women have equal power and equal opportunities for financial independence, education and personal development.
In 2020 it will be the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the first agenda for the empowerment of women and girls’ rights adopted by 189 countries worldwide. Since then, some progress has been made, yet, the real change is still yet late to come. In a survey conducted by Ipsos – in collaboration with International Women’s Day in 2018 – participants coming from different countries were asked to identify three of the most important issues facing women and girls in their homeland. As results, sexual harassment was pointed out as first by the majority of countries, i.e. Perú, Malaysia and Russia, followed by sexual violence, mostly in South America and South Africa, and physical violence, more in Perú, Turkey and Mexico. Surprisingly, the unequal pay was seen as one of the major issues in developed European countries, i.e. Sweden, Germany and France.
According to United Nation, 18 per cent of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 years have experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence with 30 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 married before 18 years old in 2018. During the same year, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research stated that gender wage gap was about 18,4 per cent, not even considering the differences in diverse racial and ethnic groups among women. The ladies represent 39 per cent of the workforce but only 27 per cent of managerial positions. About one third of developed countries faces gender inequity in primary school, causing a lack of education that affects women’s opportunity to have access to skills that would permit them to enter the workforce. Moreover, an educated girl is more likely to have later marriage, smaller family and healthier children who would send to school rather than exploit them for household labors. The educational limit is translated in a reduction of participation in the world’s economy and therefore a decrease in the national growth rates.
These numbers are just few examples explaining the human rights’ violation that women and girls have to live with every day, in and out the workplace. The need for women empowerment in health, social, political and educational realities are not just a necessity for the female gender but a possibility to meet a wider range of international development goals, creating an effect that benefits everyone. We should remember that gender equality is not a threat for male gender. We do not have to fight a “sex war” but to make the first step to achieve new social patterns for an ideal society. By breaking the traditional and rigid male role stereotype, men can create a new alternative model and a new notion of masculinity, not based on the achievement of the “tough man” role imposed through the years by a society based on strength as the only source of success and leadership. Sustaining equal human rights, men are involved in the decision making of a moral and right society, widening this way its basis. The visibility of these men is crucial to raise awareness among others, showing that this issue does not belong just to women but to everyone who wants to follow the human evolution to create a better and more profitable future.