Why gender equality is key to sustainable development?
Gender Equality and Sustainable Development
The framework of a society is like a fabricated mesh. Each link is woven into another link, creating an entangled complexity in which each strand is difficult to isolate and remove. Woven with the threads of a patriarchal mindset, gender inequality curves its way through this labyrinth, unable to find a passage to escape this maze. And it is this social stigma which hinders the plans for sustainable development.
The doughnut is never split into half. Men get a larger share of the pie even today. Why this discrimination? Why this bias? Will my neighbor’s son subdue my daughter forever? Will she not get an equal opportunity to access basic amenities like access to healthcare or education? Will she not get an equal pay for her work? Will her voice never be heard? Curses of bearing the female (XX) chromosome.
The crux of various inhuman acts like female foeticide, harassment for dowry, molestation, rape, and abuse is the act of gender discrimination. Women are still considered the weaker sex. Some men still consider women to be a mere toy to play with. Why is the voice of the XX chromosome bearer never heard?
Gender inequality persists worldwide. Power imbalances in gender relations in several nooks and corners of the world suggest that gender equality and sustainable development have to go hand in hand. Great social reformers and visionary have iterated that women be given equal opportunities and have shunned the gender stereotypes.
Is your daughter safe? Does she have the right to education? Does she have the right to equal pay? Is she saved from the clutches of discrimination? Is she saved from the violence of the stronger sex? Has Gender Inequality penetrated into our socio-fabric culture?
Gender is a part of the broader socio-cultural context. The social fabric of the system has been corrupted with invisible boundaries created by man. The ethnicity of an individual is decided on the basis of a line drawn to separate geographies, creating different opportunities for different individuals striking an imbalance. Boundaries are made to ensure effective governance, not discrimination. Similarly, gender is nature’s way of ensuring the continuation of a species. It cannot be the basis of differentiation in opportunities. And it is this basic principle that needs to be ingrained into the social fabric to eradicate discrimination and ensure sustainable development.
Women have been trying to climb this invisible fence of barriers and discrimination and gain justice for centuries. These movements have happened in various pockets of the world at different times. These fights for equality have often been subdued with violence. But each act of discrimination acts as a catalyst and triggers the fight for justice. But the fight for gender equality is not a battle for the women alone, it is a battle where the men have to participate and contribute equally.
Let’s take India as an example. It is a land which practiced site where the woman jumped into the burning pyre of her dead husband (mostly out of force). Child marriage was common and widow remarriage a taboo. Giving birth to a girl child meant additional expenses for her wedding. Giving birth to a girl child meant there were no additional hands to help in increasing the household income. The respect and social status were linked to the protection and chastity of the women. However, I am proud to say that education is cleansing the mindset of the people. Sati has been abolished and the rate of female foeticide has reduced. There is a lot more to do, but yes, a lot has been done. What can I do to propagate Gender Equality?
Gender inequality can be addressed by adopting strict laws which have to be implemented and practiced. It can also be practiced by educating the people. To make it sustainable, this practice has to begin at home. Research confirms that educating a girl child is more beneficial since she will spread the flames of knowledge to her surroundings. Gender equality can be practiced at your workplace to strike an equilibrium of balance. Gender equality can also be practiced by encouraging the women around you to take a stance for themselves. These baby steps can ensure we eradicate issues arising out of gender discrimination to create a better future for our children.