Gender Inequality is Harming Us All

Gender inequality is entrenched in every aspect of people’s lives: from the way they are treated and perceived, to their ability to access resources, opportunities and protections. And it’s harming us all. Gender equality is not only a human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful and prosperous world.

Achieving gender equality means ensuring that men and women have equal access to the same opportunities, benefits, rights and resources – whether they live at home, in work or in public life. This is why gender mainstreaming is so important.

But while there have been significant reductions in gender gaps in some countries, in most it takes a lot longer for women to achieve the same outcomes as men. The gap reflects the fact that women are still less likely to have access to education, employment or economic assets. They are more likely to be in lower paid jobs, more likely to work in precarious situations and face greater risk of violence – both within their homes and outside them. They are still more likely to be unpaid and unequally represented in decision-making roles at local, state and international levels.

While some policies and programmes are designed to reduce these gaps, they too often adopt a one size fits all approach. This is most common in the areas of addressing gender equality in the workplace and in politics. These initiatives often focus on ‘fixing’ women, usually those who hold some degree of privilege – such as white, middle class women. They rarely address the structural causes of these gaps, and often fail to take into account the needs and experiences of the women they are meant to help.

Inequalities in girls’ education also remain huge. In many countries, twice as many girls as boys are not in school by late adolescence. These inequalities cut girls’ futures short: without an education, they are less able to earn a living, stay healthy and make choices for themselves. They are also more likely to be forced into marriage and to have children at an early age – which can have devastating long-term consequences. And they can be trapped in a cycle of poverty, violence and dependence on their husbands or partners to provide for them.

Gender inequality is a global problem. However, it can be reduced by investing in girls and by challenging norms that impose gender stereotypes on boys. When we remove barriers to a girl’s education, health and wellbeing, she can build a stronger future for herself, her family and community. This can have a powerful ripple effect across generations, as she will be better equipped to challenge gender discrimination and support girls’ rights. It can also help to grow economies, create stable societies and drive prosperity for all. Save the Children believes that empowering girls from an early age can add $28 trillion to global economic growth by 2030. This is why we continue to fight for a world where gender inequality is no more.