But why is it so important?
Gender equality is something that everyone can benefit from and is one of the main reasons it has been nominated by the United Nations as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). If you think gender equality is just about providing women and men equal opportunities for the sake of it, think again. Gender equality is crucial for a perfect and peaceful society. An equitable society forms the basis for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.
Below are a few reasons why we as a collective, need to come together to ensure equality.
1. Equality for economic development - Sustainable economic development requires providing equal opportunities to both genders. UN Women reported that in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, half of the economic growth over the past 50 years is attributed to girls having better access to education. Nations with the right gender balance have shown tremendous economic growth over the past years. In OECD countries, if the female employment rates were raised to match Sweden, it would lead to a GDP increase equivalent to $6 trillion . Clearly, this shows the GDP impact gender inequality has on countries.
2. Poverty elimination - UN opines that educating women can go a long way in reducing infant mortality rates . Infact, educated women are more likely to take up jobs and earn an income for themselves. This is a great step towards poverty elimination as women end up spending 90% of their earnings in their family versus men who just spend 35% of their income. This improves children’s health and eliminates the continuous cycle of chronic hunger. When women don’t work, economies stop flourishing and the endless poverty cycle continues.
3. Companies stand to gain - According to a research by Mckinsey in 2020 on more than 1,000 large companies in 15 countries, it was found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Companies in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity were 36 percent more likely to outperform on profitability . These figures clearly go on to show how important it is for companies to ensure the right gender balance. However, given the challenges arising as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, any dissolving of the gender balance can slow down business recovery and compromise on business performance. Gender equality shouldn’t take a back seat during these times, rather it should be a strategic priority.
4. Reduction in domestic violence and sexual harassment - Worldwide, 35 percent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. With education and employment, girls are set to marry later and avoid child marriage. This makes women a little less vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation. The right education also makes women aware of their rights and the legal options they have to tackle violence and exploitation.
Despite all the above benefits that gender equality has, we still seem to be moving at a snail’s place in achieving gender equality. When it comes to bringing change within our societies, we are reluctant and often wait for someone else to take the first step. We are also accustomed to a way of life since the start and are not ready to embrace change for global good. Many of us are still not aware of how we can promote and come together for the establishment of a gender equal society.