Across the world, gender inequality continues to persist, especially in developing countries. In the United States, for instance, fewer girls are becoming mothers when they are still children. There are also less opportunities for women to achieve career success. This translates into less time for education and unpaid work. This increases the risk of poor reproductive health and HIV.
In addition, gender stereotypes limit opportunities for men and women. For example, parents may expect a son to perform harder tasks than a daughter. Boys are more likely to be asked to take out garbage, and girls may be asked to fold laundry. In addition, menstruation remains taboo.
Gender stereotypes limit opportunities by establishing standards for abilities based on a person’s gender at birth. These expectations are not merely social constructs; they are actually rooted in people’s values and ideas. This creates inequalities in both the economy and the society.
There are many ways to combat gender inequality. One strategy is to provide incentives for women to advance in their careers. Another is to support talented women by providing them with sponsorship and mentorship. Individuals can also advocate for themselves in their careers or speak up if they experience unconscious bias.
Gender equality has improved in some regions, while in others, it has declined. In some geographies, economic growth has promoted gender inequality. The Middle East and North Africa region saw the biggest improvements, while South Asia saw the largest declines.
Some geographies are already experiencing a “shadow pandemic” of gender inequality. The effects of the pandemic are visible in increased rates of domestic violence, loss of employment for women, and risks taken by nurses. These events can undermine progress towards gender equality, and have created new challenges for women. The UN recently published a report detailing the effects of the pandemic.
In addition, fewer girls are getting married when they are young. This means that they are not developing into healthy, productive members of society. In addition, girls and women are often left behind in learning opportunities and are less influential in their communities.
Although the number of women in leadership positions is increasing, it is not yet reflecting the population. This is a problem that will continue to persist until the numbers of women in federal and local governments are based on actual populations.
Gender inequality is a complex issue, but each individual has a role to play in addressing it. If you have investments in companies that promote gender equality, you can help them move forward. If you have a personal goal of raising your sons and daughters to be free of gender constraints, you can encourage them to achieve their goals. If you are a company, you can redesign your performance reviews, promotions, and hiring practices to make them more inclusive.
If you are interested in making a difference in gender inequality, you can start by examining your own attitudes and unconscious biases. You can also become a mentor for other individuals or businesses. You can also use your social network to promote women in your workplace and raise their visibility.