The fact that a large percentage of the human population comprises of women who are often marginalized compared to their male counterparts is ironical. The term ‘gender equality’ refers to the fact that both men and women should have similar opportunities. Similarly, it denotes the fact that the diverse roles that men and women in the society assume are equal in their values. The purpose of this ideology is to get rid of stereotypes, barriers and discrimination. It will also ensure that both females and males can draw equal benefits from the available resources as well as contribute equally towards the socio-economic, cultural and political development of the entire community. Gender equality does not only entail the achievement of economic empowerment of women, but it is also a moral requirement which raises the need for fairness and equity in all dimensions of life. Some authors argue that in the society where men and women get equal opportunities, there is a stable process of growth (Lorber). The aim of this paper is to discuss discrimination of women and its negative effects as well as provide some solutions concerning how to reduce discrimination based on sex.
Discrimination of Women
Just like any other human being, every woman has a right to all opportunities, including education, employment, health and participation in social activities that contribute to the development of the society. Besides, universally, gender equality deals with human rights. For example, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) endeavors to place an obligation on all member states to implement strategies that promote the achievement of gender equivalence. Another instrument is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which tries to ensure that women benefit from equal political and civic rights as well as men. Above all, tolerance in all spheres, including gender issues, forms the basis of the constitution of virtually every state, because it is a basic human right.
Unfortunately, the level of gender discrimination is rampant in nearly all countries. Research reveals that in almost all nations of the world, women and girls are denied numerous opportunities due to various gender norms that often results in the inability to access the services that are fundamental to every person (Kramer and Beutel). Injustice directed towards women takes place in diverse forms and in different places. For instance, females mainly lack equal access to appropriate healthcare facilities, education, and even work places. There are also certain cultural practices that promote prejudice towards women, especially in Africa. Some of these harmful cultural practices include early marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and wife battering just to mention but a few. All these practices frequently result in detrimental for women and the society at large.
One of the adverse consequences of discrimination of women is the gross violation of their human rights. As stated earlier, all women are entitled to the inalienable right to preserve dignity. Therefore, discriminating women in different ways and subjecting them to violence results in the violation of their fundamental rights. A good example is Female Genital Mutilation, which is a practice that poses a great threat to the life of a woman. In fact, it is a major cause of female deaths and other health complications in those societies that practice it (Sen and Östlin). Because of this outcome, it is a violation of a woman’s right to life and decent health.
The discrimination of women is one of the factors that contribute to the increased levels of poverty (Klasen and Lamanna). This effect is especially prominent in the current societies where mothers are the breadwinners in their families. As a result, there is a link between the level of economic inequality and the financial circumstances of women within the society. According to the statistics on poverty, approximately 70% of the population that lives below the poverty line comprises of women. Moreover, women do not have access to other economic facilities such as property rights, access to credit advances and labor. Because of these restricted opportunities, women lack the capability to improve their own financial lives and those of their families.
Gender intolerance also prohibits the presentation and achievement of the interests of women in the government of the country. It bars women from participating in decision-making processes at the community, regional as well as international arenas. The legal framework also limits the rights of women to citizenship, inheritance of property and even custody over children in family matters. Another negative effect of this phenomenon id the increase in the level of illiteracy of women due to the inability of girls to access education.
Solutions to Gender Inequality
Various methods have been employed in the past to try and incorporate women in societal affairs. During the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, world leaders decided to make gender inequality the focus of the third objective among the millennium developmental goals. They decided that gender inequality was a problem, and since problems have solutions, this menace must have a fix as well. As a result, the conference proposed several strategies that would help achieve gender parity (Kabeer).
One of the offered strategies includes strengthening the chances of enabling girls to attain post-primary education while at the same time guaranteeing them the access to universal primary education. This strategy simply implies that the girls’ access to education has increased. In most societies, especially in the underdeveloped countries, the girl’s access to education is often neglected. When literacy levels in the society are low, every opportunity to get an education is granted to the male child even if the girl is evidently more intelligent than her male counterparts. Denying her the opportunity to get educated is tantamount to refusing her the chance for empowerment. Thus, in order to empower more women with skills and knowledge, efforts should be taken to enhance their access to education.
Affirmative action is another strategy that may be used to combat gender inequality. It is also referred to as positive discrimination and includes legislative measures to enhance women’s access to leadership positions or certain high level jobs in the society. For instance, legislation can declare that in every three appointees, at least one must be of the opposite gender. Such a measure will ensure the representation of women. Even in such male-dominated professions as politics, this law will ensure that the voices of women are heard. Moreover, whenever such a measure is adopted in a house of representation – for instance, in the parliament – women’s issues get a chance to be deliberated.
Another measure that may help promote gender parity is enhanced employment and working rights. Traditionally, the place of a woman is the home whereby her main duties are to raise children and make the man comfortable. These activities automatically eliminate her from participating in public life where there are opportunities for self-advancement. In more traditional societies, women’s roles are limited to the informal sector and thus they are denied a chance to make their lives better. As a step towards empowering women, their rights to employment access must be guaranteed. Furthermore, the barriers that prevent them from accessing employment opportunities must be eliminated. Just like men, they should not be restricted to the homestead, but allowed to explore their potential to the fullest.
Unfortunately, the access to proprietary rights remains a key challenge for women in most modern societies. There are certain proprietary rights that are preserved for males, such as property ownership and inheritance. For instance, in certain societies, when there is no male child in the family, the property is granted to nephews rather than to the daughters. In other cases, a girl is simply prohibited from owning property, and any property she earns is deemed to be that of her husband (Kabeer). When such practices are in place on in society, women will always lag behind men. Therefore, in order to ensure that women are not treated as second class citizens, they must be permitted to have equal property rights. They must be allowed to own property anywhere without any undue restrictions.
The above paper reveals that gender equality denotes the practice of granting men and women equivalent rights, opportunities and obligations in an attempt to ensure that they all enjoy the benefits of the economic and social benefits of the society. More specifically, the discussion has put significant emphasis on the gender-based type of discrimination. The paper has shown that the right to gender equality is a human right and that most responsible non-governmental organizations acknowledge that right. Most notably, this right is present is the basis of such legal instruments as CEDAW and ICCPR. From the literature, it is clear that women are often marginalized and discriminated because of their gender. Bigotry takes various forms and occurs in numerous areas, including health, education and the workplace. As a result, the negative effects of gender discrimination include the violation of human rights, the increase in the level of poverty, especially among women, as well as the lack of proper female representation in the government. It is also a contributing factor when it comes to high levels of illiteracy among women in some nations. The proposed solutions that can reduce discrimination include the promotion of education among women, the use of legislative instruments to implement non-discriminatory policies and affirmative actions.