Continuing our 'thought leadership' series, Concern's Equality Advisor, Adèle Fox, takes a look at gender equality 107 years after we first marked International Women’s day, and examines the role of men in deconstructing gender inequalities.
Another year, another International Women’s Day. Marked since 1911 to remind us to take shared responsibility and collective action against gender inequality. 107 years on, and we’re still talking about gender equality? Unfortunately yes, we very much are. Just lately it has been brought into the Western limelight with the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, and about time, too.
However, gender inequality pervades most countries in the world in one way or another, and much of this doesn’t ever make it into the news.
Gender inequality impacts most of us in a range of ways, though this impact will differ vastly based on our experiences, circumstances and contexts.
It affects the control we have over our bodies - whether or when we have sex, when and how many times we reproduce, whether we are put through a tradition of genital mutilation, how likely we are to experience gender-based violence (GBV), how ‘appropriately’ we are seen to be dressed. It affects whether we report such violations. According to Women Deliver, 37,000 girls are forced into early marriage every day, 30% of women have experienced some form of violence in their relationships, and 200 million girls and women alive today are affected by female genital mutilation. One in four women are abused during pregnancy.
Whether you’re a male or a female can have a direct effect on whether you will enrol in and complete school, experience sexual violence at school and be literate or not – 64% of the world’s illiterate adults are women.
Gender affects how much time you are expected to spend doing unpaid domestic chores or caring duties and how much access to land, finances and credit you are entitled to. Only 13% of landholders are women.
GBV, in its many forms, impacts physical, mental and reproductive health: injury, increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, lower self-esteem and confidence. Combined with decreased educational and employment opportunities, lack of decision-making power and discriminatory laws, the knock-on effects impact both the individual and society at large.
Gender inequality undermines our rights, impedes development and democracy building and compromises the livelihoods and freedom of millions. This is why we are still talking about it today, 107 years on.