Women’s, worldwide 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’s empowerment is a crucial aspect of achieving gender equality. It includes giving women more decision-making power, self-worth, access to chances and resources, power and control over their lives inside and outside the home, and the ability to make changes. Gender issues presently are not just about women, but also about how men and women work together 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 essential 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 are contracting HIV/AIDS due to gender-based violence, uneven power in sexual relationships, and fewer health education chances. Rural women often lack prenatal and newborn care and are at risk of difficulties during pregnancy and delivery. 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. Worldwide, women and girls perform long hours of unpaid domestic work. In certain regions, women cannot own land, or property, get credit, generate money, or advance in their careers without employment discrimination. Women are overlooked as decision-makers at all levels, both at home and in the public sphere. Women are outnumbered 4 to 1 in legislatures worldwide, yet their political participation is vital for gender equality and 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