“Scrap the concept of feminism, we don’t need it anymore.”
“You need feminism just to smoke and drink publicly, it has nothing to do with women safety or equality.”
“Not all men are trash. Stop calling out guys, stop imposing false accusations.”
“Men also face problems, why don’t you ever talk about them?”
These are very common statements that we come across on a day-to-day basis. There’s something very common in these statements apart from the fact that people who pass such statements are totally against the idea of feminism, what else is common is either people have presumed the fact that we have achieved the platform where there is no bias based on people’s gender identity or maybe deep down they don’t want any equality as they have not just accepted it but are comfortable living with this bias.
One might wonder what actually counts under or what factors contribute to gender equality. Let’s look at the basic definition of it first, UNICEF’s definition of gender equality “means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.” The people like you and I who are reading might for once say that there’s equality because maybe being a female you’ve acquired education and are even allowed to work for an earning, or being a male you’ve seen your sister or females around you were given the same opportunity. Now, if you think that there’s no equality and we still have a far way to go, then congratulations you’ve actually stood up and looked out of the windows of your comfort zone, peeping and realizing that there are thousands of people on the street struggling for things that you’ve actually received as a privilege and if by any chance you feel that people are not suffering from any bias especially based on their gender, then we aim to change your thought process. Let’s start with
some basic facts and figures.
• Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have undergone FGM.
• The rates of girls between 15-19 who are subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation) in the 30 countries where the practice is concentrated have dropped from 1 in 2 girls in 2000 to 1 in 3 girls by 2017.
• In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
• One in five women and girls, including 19 percent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence.
• While women have made important inroads into political office across the world, their representation in national parliaments at 23.7 percent is still far from parity.
• In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 percent of seats in the national parliament in at least one chamber.
• Only 52 percent of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use, and health care.
• Globally, women are just 13 percent of agricultural landholders.
• Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The proportion of women in paid employment outside the agriculture sector has increased from 35 percent in 1990 to 41 percent in 2015.
• More than 100 countries have taken action to track budget allocations for gender equality.
• In Southern Asia, a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by over 40per cent since 2000.
While we observe these figures we realize that even though some of them are obsolete, not much difference is actually reported. A few pointers give us a sense of satisfaction that people, not only social activists but government organizations are also working towards the upliftment of women and scrapping gender bias. We have been successful in some regions, have traveled a long road, and need to travel a road which is far longer. UNFPA stated that “despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. They have less access to property ownership, credit, training, and employment. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.”
A major point is that a person is not subject to such bias just because she’s a woman, people face this based on their sexual orientations as well. Just think of it yourself, the one’s who haven’t been able to accept the fact that females are equivalent to males in all aspects, how can they even accept the existence of homosexuals? When women have to suffer just because she’s a woman and according to the social norms, biologically weaker, it is very obvious that people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community are far more prone to dangers of the societal norms and standards. This whole idea of this divide is nothing but a person’s mentality, and this mentality is a result of years of teaching that we get from our surrounding environment. It’s harsh to accept but our mentality is a by-product of the thoughts and actions that were down into our brains at a very early age. We are told, “you’re a girl play with this doll” or “here take a car or a gun and be a boy”. “Wear bright colors like pink or yellow, they suit you, you are a girl, no son! You try some dark colors, blue and black suits you perfect”. These statements sound very normal but the whole process begins here and goes on to an extent where we limit the freedoms given to a girl because we fail to check up on our boys. Not going out once it’s dark because you, being a girl might be groped by a guy to satisfy his needs or staying indoors to help your mother doing household chores and definitely learn them because you have to do the same once you marry. We don’t do that to our boys, majorly because they generally don’t face the same extent of repercussions as that of a girl, because our society is designed to be very particular about the mistakes committed by girls and they tend to overlook the same mistakes if it’s a boy. In short, we define the roles for our coming generations, purely based on their gender. These things continue to affect both genders throughout their lives, males are taught to earn for the family which fills them with a sense of pride because they have a monetary value, in terms of an income and hence, they assume they have an upper hand on females, which results in them torturing the females who are financially dependent on these males. Even if a woman tries to be financially independent then, in that case, she has to suffer at her workplace, maybe in terms of unequal opportunities or in terms of harassment, again based on her gender.
This is something that we know or even if you didn’t, now you do. The major question is what to do now? The first thing which is feasible and has an immediate effect is having stringent laws towards the safety and bias that people face based on their gender, and the second most important thing to be done is having a progressive mindset, even if we have been taught gender differences we can definitely unlearn these negative traits and try learning some positive traits and help in the development of the society as a whole. This way we will not only create a safe environment today but also prevent the flow of such toxic behaviors and thoughts across generations.
• Facts and figures: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/