Achieving Gender Inequality for Women and Girls
Gender inequality is the difference between men and women in terms of their rights, status, power, wealth, employment and health. It is caused by sexism, which is prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender.
It is a problem for everyone, but women and girls are particularly vulnerable. This is because of the effects that sex and gender have on people, starting at birth. These include the socially constructed roles that people are expected to play, their access to resources and opportunities, and their responsibilities in family, work and society.
The first agent of socialization is the family (Kimmel 2000). Children are raised by their parents and are typically socialized in a way that reinforces stereotyped gender roles. They are encouraged to conform to these expectations and to be obedient and submissive. This may result in them being less independent, more dependent on others for care and support, more reliant on their fathers, and more limited in their choices about how they dress and what activities they undertake.
As they grow, these patterns of gender inequality continue to affect their health and well-being. This can include poor physical and mental health, including high rates of depression, anxiety and stress, and chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory disorders.
Achieving equality for women and girls means a redefinition of the roles that women and men are expected to play. This includes the assumption of gender equality in the workplace, a new definition of family roles and a more equitable distribution of the responsibility for caring for children, among other things.
Institutional change is also necessary. This can include a change in the laws that protect women from violence or that make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of her gender. It can also mean changes in policies and practices in the work place that allow employers to treat employees equally regardless of their gender or other characteristics.
This would help to further reduce occupational segregation, which is a contributing factor to the pay gap. It would also eliminate discrimination by employers that is subtle and hard to measure, such as discrimination based on sex.
Having these policies in place would encourage more women to enter professional and managerial jobs. It would also encourage more employers to consider a wider range of qualifications when hiring workers, which could help narrow the gap in pay.
Although the pay gap has narrowed over time, there is still a substantial gender pay gap worldwide and, more significantly, an increasing one in high-income countries. This can be explained by the fact that the increase in the percentage of women employed has slowed over the past decades.
To achieve gender equality for all, we need to promote and support policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equity. These should be based on an assessment of the underlying causes of inequality and a commitment to tackling those. This would require a broad-based and long-term effort that takes into account the needs of both women and men.