It is a wonder how our world has progressed while half of its population, which holds great potential, unfortunately lives below the poverty line. Women make up almost 50% of our society, yet they are denied access to quality education and healthcare and are subjected to gender inequality across the board, be it in their life at home or the workplace.
I am undoubtedly, talking about gender inequality and how vastly prevalent it is worldwide. Gender inequality is the discrimination on the basis of a gender or sex. It leads to one gender being prioritized under all circumstances while the other one is disregarded.
Gender equality is a basic human right, but in many countries all over the world, women are marginalized due to gender inequality. They are not given high profile jobs or positions; they are given lesser wages than men, for completing the same duties, they may be passed over in favor of men for better positions and opportunities.
But the adverse effects of gender inequality do not stop at the workplace; in many countries girls are not given the same educational opportunities as boys. At home, women and girls are subjected to violence and domestic abuse, which leads to many mental and physical health issues for these women.
The effects of gender inequality are not limited to culture and domestic life alone. Unfortunately, they can be felt very powerfully in the economic development, or lack thereof, in a country. Simple math tells us that if we empower and liberate 50% of the population of any country, we can undoubtedly increase its economic welfare, while keeping them bound at home on the premises of a gender bias creates a gaping hole in the labor force and workforce and also diminishes the income of the household collectively.
Although, in the past couple of decades the world has seen an increase in the number of women in the labor force, they are still under-utilized and not given the same opportunities as men. Much of this is because they are not provided an equal chance at quality education leaving them unable to benefit from good jobs hence lowering their wages too. With lesser employment rate in the population, the per capita income decreases as well.
There is a gaping gender wage gap in Pakistan. Once again, the lack of education for women is the main reason for this disparity. The literacy rate for women in Pakistan is 48%, while men’s literacy stands at 71%. This causes the huge difference in employment rates between both genders, resulting in much lesser wages for women.
The United Nations, realized long ago that gender inequality is one of the root causes of the economic complications and setbacks that most developing countries suffer from, worldwide. The SDGs, or sustainable development goals, also called the “global goals,” were established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. These are 17 goals that are to be implemented by 2030 for a better, more prosperous, harmonious, and peaceful world.
All of the 17 SDG’s are affected by gender inequality, reinforcing that a prosperous and peaceful world where human rights are of utmost importance, can be achieved only when everyone in the world, be it man or woman, is provided with a safe place to thrive, grow and become financially sound. The data collected in relation to the various SDGs, showed that for each goal, the gender bias against women was much higher than men.
For example, SDG 2 aims at providing food security and improving nutrition through sustainable agriculture. Data showed that there were a higher percentage of women who could not secure food for themselves or their dependents consistently. This leads to hunger and malnutrition, especially in growing children.
SDG 3 states that we must strive to achieve an equal and balanced healthcare system and promote wellness for all. One of the main components of this goal is achieving the best maternal healthcare for women. Although much has been accomplished in this regard, especially the rapid decrease in maternal mortality rates, there is still a long way to go to ensure that mothers and infants worldwide get the prenatal and postnatal healthcare they require.
SDG 4 is to ensure quality education for all children. Here again, a gender bias is rampant in many under developed and developing countries of the world. Many girls may be enrolled in school but fail to actually attend classes or drop out during the academic year. In many developing countries, the male child is given preference in this regard.
It is seen as vital for the male child to be given a sound education, whereas the girl child will frequently, be overlooked. This act has cultural roots, because it is believed that the male will grow up to be the breadwinner of the family, whereas the female will remain at home, so it is essential that the male child get proper education as opposed to the female child.
Unfortunately, poverty plays an important role in hindering the progress being made for the implementation of SDGs worldwide. It seems we have come full circle, because alleviating poverty and the efforts put towards reducing the disparity between classes can become one of the main ways gender equality can be attained.
Poverty itself is one of the causes for lack of education in girls, because studies have shown that the illiteracy rate among women from rich households is near to zero. This goes to show that economic development and gender equality go hand in hand. Reducing poverty and creating an atmosphere where economic development can increase rapidly, all depends upon a society that promotes gender equality in all of its strata and vice versa.