Gender Equality is a Myth Complete Essay
Gender equality is not a myth, but an achievable goal. However, men dominate this male oriented world. Women around the globe are facing discrimination in every aspect of life, throughout their life. They face prejudice both in home and in office. During childhood, many rural families, particularly from development countries, compromise the education of their daughters at the altar of the education of their sons. So from this early childhood sacrifices women starts facing discrimination inside and outside homes. There are voices even at the most development countries that women are not paid equally with men. Position of women has, however, increased greatly since the establishment of United Nation Organization, but an equal status is still a far cry. A concerted effort is required at societal, national as well as international level to give women their birth right status of equality.
Let us look at some of the reasons, which have hindered the way for women to become an equal creature in status, dignity and honour with men.
First of all, modern society is organized on patriarchal system. In patriarchal system, male member of the family, usually the most eldest, is the head of family. So the discrimination against women started from the family, which is a primary institution of socialization. The preferential treatment meted out to the male child, creates a sense of deprivation in the innocent mind of female child. They are taught about the inequality, even by their mothers. They are taught that their survival is based on the earnings of the male member of a family. They are physically weak; therefore, they need the security and protection of a male member. Thus, psychologically women are made dependent upon men. This not only creates an inequality in the minds of female child but also have an overarching effect on the working of society. Male child, consequently, becomes more valuable than female child.
A natural consequence of the organization of society on patriarchal basis is the preference of a male child over a female child. Boy is considered as an asset, whereas, girl as liability. He is considered to be the bread winner of a family at some time in future. He will remain with his parents even after his marriage, and so will his income. Girl, on the other hand, will go to her husband’s house after her marriage. Her marriage will also be a great financial burden on her parents. This creates an overall culture of inequality.
Culture of many countries promotes inequality. Many cultural traits consider men as a superior creature. They become guardian of women’s life. Men in those parts of the world believe it to be their inherent right to treat their women as they like. Thus, when in 2014 five women were buried alive in the province of Baluchistan, a senior Parliamentarian belonging to the province condones it on the ground of cultural validity and warns the government and the media, not to meddle with the culture of Baluchistan. These vanguards also obtain some justification from their religions.
Some religious doctrines of the major religions of the world also endorse discrimination. Christianity, which is the major religion of the world, has not witnessed even a single female Pope. More recently Pope Francis reiterated Catholic Church view of a prohibition of female priests. Similarly, women were burnt alive, on the death of their husbands by the Hindus on the basis of religious sanction. Islam has too some provisions which recognize inequality between men and women, owing to physical characteristics despite tremendously raising the status of women.
All of the causes above explained are the underlying causes of inequality. These causes create hosts of other dimensions of inequality.
The first target of gender inequality is female education. Women are deprived of their right to education. Firstly, the poor families consider the education of their male child more important than female one’s Secondly; societies with strong cultural base are usually reluctant to send their daughters to school. They believe that their daughters will become rebellious after getting education and lead a life of their own choice. Thus, out of fear they don’t send their daughters to school. Thirdly, some consider if against their culture to sends girls to school. Top of all, there is a lack of infrastructure for girl’s education. As a result girls become dependent on others and boys excel in life. In this knowledge oriented world, how can an equal status of equality be achieved for women without imparting in them knowledge through formal schooling? The result would be dependence on men, especially economic dependence.
Our modern society is organised on class system, in which status and dignity is derived from wealth and Power one possesses. Forget about women; even men are stratified on the basis of class system. Then how women can gain status of equality in the absence of powerful stimulus to respect i.e. wealth. Economic dependency of the women largely contributes to their unequal status. Women are economically dependent because they are uneducated and can’t find job for themselves in the competitive economy. Those who are educated are not allowed to work by their male vanguards, the result is dependency and perpetual inequality. Recent studies have concluded that working woman has higher respect and status at home than the woman confined to house.
Even where girls try to throw the yolk of economic dependency, they find themselves at a disadvantageous position in finding a suitable job for themselves. Firstly, there are few economic opportunities for women. Employer prefers to give a job to male applicant rather than a female applicant. A woman may have to leave a job after her marriage because her husband may be living at some other city or place. She may also have health issues, especially during pregnancy, obliging her to take long leave from work. To avoid these issues and to ensure the continuity of service employers first choice is a male candidate.This greatly reduces the prospect of finding a good job. Secondly, women are considered not appropriate for many professions and employers prefer male candidate. Society deliberately put may professions out of the reach of women. In Pakistan, for instance, even the noble profession of advocacy is considered exclusively for men. As a result, women are left with few choices to pursue their career. Even politics is not considered good for women.
The platform for formulating laws and policies of any country is its parliament. The recognition and protection of an equal status of women must come from the state’s highest institution. Unfortunately, here too, women are under-represented. There is gender gap in politics, throughout the world. The most advanced country of the world i.e. United States of America is still waiting for her first female head of government. United Kingdom only twice have a female premier. In Pakistan too, the portion of women elected on open seats are negligible. Most of the women are elected through an indirect system. These women, belonging to aristocratic families are unable to contribute in a meaningful way as a true voice of women.
Another important aspect which testifies an unequal status of women, is the physical treatment meted out to the women. Women are subject to the domestic violence at homes, sexual harassment at work places and acid victims on roadsides. Beating of women by her husband is culturally approved in many parts of Asia and Africa. They are subject to all sorts of torture i.e. from physical beating to cutting of their genitals. Similarly, at work places women are subject to sexual harassment, especially those who are working in lower cadres as workers. Sub-continent is also witnessing another unique type of violence against women i.e. throwing of acid on their faces. Why there is always violence directed against women. Why not other way around? The answer is simple; women have a low status because modern society is male oriented; accordingly, culture of these societies give men absolute right over women, because women are uneducated and are economically dependent on men and have no voice at power corridors.
Another facet of violence against women is forced marriage. Almost all religions of the world give women right to enter into marriage contract with their free will. Holy Quran emphatically says that “do not take women against their consent. Yet, the influence of culture is so strong that women in most developing countries are not consulted while finalization of their marriages proposals. In fact, to raise a voice against the proposed marriage is considered as a grievous sin.
Further, there are double standard of society with regard to morality of men and women. Men have been able to impose their own version of morality over the female. Women are persecuted by men for being immoral. Thus, we saw honour killing of women by men in South Asia generally and in Pakistan particularly. If a woman has been found breaching a moral code of conduct, she is punished by her male “protector”. However, when the “protector” himself commits such breach, there is no punishment from the opposite side. These crimes against women not only have cultural approval, but also have recognition from the legal systems.
Laws of many countries are silence on the rights of women. Some have even enacted tyrannical laws against women. For instance, in Sudan women can be subject to flogging publicly by a police official for not covering her hairs. In Saudi Arabiait is a crime for female to drive a vehicle on roads. Presently, however, they have reserved a separate place for female to drive. Though Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973 recognises the equality of citizen and even call for the framing of special measures for women and children, yet the legislature has failed to enact laws extending protection to women. There is not a single law on domestic violence purporting against women. A bill is pending in the parliament for the last decade or so. Contrary to this, honour killing has been recognized as a mitigating ground while awarding the punishment of Qatl Amd (Intentional murder). It may be pointed out that Government of Pakistan has recently enacted a federal law protecting women from sexual harassment at workplaces. There is, however, a need to frame pro-women laws and repeal anti women laws, otherwise women will not be able to gain confidence and trust necessary for their just contribution to society.
All the causes explained above, rendering the gender equality as a myth, are an offshoot of a single reason i.e. women themselves condones inequality. Women lacking self-conviction absorbs every kind of discrimination. Not only themselves absorbing it; they inculcate it to their daughters, resulting in perpetual inequality. It is the mother who asks her daughter to give the best thing to her brother. Even the toys of male and female child are such that promotes discrimination. For male child parents usually bring guns and helicopters just to make them mentally strong. On the other hands, every female child invariably has a Barbie doll, culminating in her a sense of weakness. This mind set of the women has developed due to her subjugation for centuries. Women can be helped to come out from this mental framework and strive for equal status.
God almighty has made every human being as equal and there can be no discrimination on any ground, let alone gender based. All the discriminations and inequalities are the result of human being’s conscious effort. Similarly, gender equality can be achieved through consistent struggle of all stake holders. A few suggestions are pinned down here, briefly.
The first step towards women empowerment is to educate them. Education will not only give them self-belief but will also equip them with necessary tools to lead a balance life. It will make them aware of their rights. It will also enable them to get good jobs in the market.
Economic emancipation of women is imperative, if there is to be any real case of gender equality. Economy drives the world. Without solid financial base, women will not be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with men. Women must be allowed to work without any hindrance and fear. They must also be allowed to manage and utilise their properties. Above all, they must be given their due share of property especially in inheritance. Economic emancipation will help women to liberate themselves from the clutches of discrimination. It will also create awareness in society about their role and potential.
There is a need to spread awareness among masses to respect and promote women rights. People must be educated to give their women an equal status. Everybody needs to play their part. Only awareness in the masses will soften the rigorous cultural values against women.
Anti-women cultural values must be abolished from all societies. This, however, is not an easy task. It will require persistent and strenuous effort. The first place to build a culture of equality is within family. If family is organised on equality between its male and female members, then whole society will afford and equal status to women.
At the national level, governments must discharge their obligation of creating a perfect balance between both halves of population. For this purpose, it must come for the rescue of weaker half by enacting laws and formulating policies that benefit them. Special provisions must be made for the protection of women and children.
Similarly, at the global level, United Nation must perform a leading role. It would not be wrong to attribute much progress on the global recognition and enforcement of women rights. It has done commendable work so far, especially the passing of Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women is a landmark achievement. However, much work still needs to be done particularly on implementation front. United Nations must work closely with individual governments to bring out an effective change in the status of women.
Governments and societies must also encourage human rights organisations, working on women’s status. Every government must also establish a complaint cell for taking swift action on reports of violence against women. Female police stations may also be set up. Free legal aid must be extended to all females who are victim of criminal activity. In short, there is a great deal of work to be done and in this regard a heavy responsibility is placed on the shoulders of governments, NGO’s including IGO’s, religious scholars, intellectuals and media and other segments of society.
Women constitute more than half population of the world. They have been made burden on national resources. If we can give them equal status, they can immensely contribute in the national and global development. Everybody must consciously strive to bring a change in the status of women. Otherwise, gender equality will remain a myth in this world for a foreseeable future.