Natkhat Bachpan Foundation- Gender Equality and women empowerment

Gender Equality and Women Empowerment

Worldwide, women have fewer opportunities for financial participation than men, less access to education, more health and safety risks, and less political representation.
Gender equality means that men and women have equal rights and opportunities for educational, financial independence, and personal development. Women empowerment is a crucial aspect of achieving gender equality. It includes increasing a woman’s sense of decision-making power, self-worth, access to opportunities and resources, power and control over her own life inside and outside the home, and ability to effect change. Today gender issues are not focused on women alone but on the dynamic between men and women in our society. The approach of men and boys toward women and their rights plays an essential role in achieving gender equality.
Financially independent and educated women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities, and countries, creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Education is an important area of focus. Although the world is progressing in achieving gender parity in education, girls still make up a higher percentage of out-of-school children than boys. Approximately one-quarter of girls in the developing world do not attend school. Usually, financially vulnerable families who cannot afford costs such as school fees, uniforms, and supplies for all their children will dominantly prefer education for their sons. But prioritizing girls’ education provides perhaps the single highest return on investment in the developing world. An educated girl is more likely to postpone marriage, raise a smaller family, have healthier children, and send her children to school. She has more opportunities to earn an income and participate in political processes.
Women’s health and safety is another crucial area. Women have fewer opportunities for health education, unequal power in sexual partnerships, or as a result of gender-based violence; women are increasingly getting infected by HIV/AIDS. In many countries, women from rural areas have no access to prenatal and infant care and are likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth. This is a critical concern in countries where girls marry and have children before they are often 18 or below.
A final area of focus in attaining gender equality is women’s economic and political empowerment. Though women comprise more than 50% of the world’s population, they only own 1% of the world’s wealth. Throughout the world, women and girls perform long hours of unpaid domestic work. In some places, women still lack the right to own land or inherit property, obtain access to credit, earn income, or move up in their workplace, free from job discrimination. At all levels, including at home and in the public arena, women are widely underrepresented as decision-makers. In legislatures worldwide, women are outnumbered 4 to 1, yet women’s political participation is crucial for achieving gender equality and genuine democracy.
Globally, no country has fully attained gender equality. Scandinavian countries like Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden lead the world in their progress toward closing the gender gap. In these countries, there is a relatively equitable distribution of available income, resources, and opportunities for men and women. The most significant gender gaps are identified primarily in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. However, several countries in these regions, including Lesotho, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, outrank the United States in gender equality.

by Kuntala Sarkar