INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day! The time to celebrate women, their unflinching tenacity, impacts and achievements accrued despite gender inequality. It also serves as a reminder for how far we have come in the struggle for gender equality, an outlook of the present happenings to women in relation to gender gap and a clarion call for what more to come in actively achieving gender equality.
Equality is not a women issue; it’s a business and world issue. In 2015, world leaders agreed on a policy-changing move with legislation adopted to proactively advance gender equality and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women thus achieving sustainable development (SDG) goal 5 by year 2030.
The apparent and unanswered question remains: “Is any country on track in fully achieving gender equality by year 2030, invariably 10 years from now, considering current trends? One in three women globally experiences physical or sexual violence during her lifetime. Child marriage is still thriving with stifling discrimination against women. There are still staggering 72 countries in the world where women are barred from opening bank account, according to a survey.
Gender norms are quite poor even in country with best records for gender equality globally, typically far worse in developing countries with stringent and stifling gender norms and beliefs. The sobering and disheartening Global Gender Gap Report 2020 edition based on current trends reveals that overall global gender gap will not be closed for nearly a century and gender parity may not be attained for 99 years.
The Women, Peace and Security Index Survey 2019 analyzed the most dangerous countries to live as a female. Topping the list are South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and Nigeria all ranking high in oppressive gender norms, global gender imbalance, homicidal rates, sexual and physical violence against women, and discrimination. In Nigeria, there are passed laws criminalizing child marriage, female genital mutilation and gender-based violence, yet these crimes are being perpetuated and constantly thriving.
Despite the gloom and doom tales, there are groundbreaking records and achievement in the struggle for gender equality. We need more conscious effort to douse gender gaps in terms of economic opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Collectively, we are all part of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, thoughts, behaviors, mindset, and dispositions have a huge impact on the society collectively. Together, we can help create a gender-balanced world.
Through collective action and shared responsibility, we can shape our thoughts, redefine our thinking, unlearn and relearn negativity. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations, celebrate women achievement and speak out on discrimination against women. The changes we seek require action and participation from each and every one of us.
We have come a long way in the struggle for gender equality journey but there are still many hurdles to cross. We must look outside workplace, beyond laws and policies and address the cause of gender imbalance gap from its underlying root. We must focus on where and how discrimination and stereotyping breeds. It is up to each of us; we must collectively work towards ensuring better, equal and gender-balanced future.
- Taofeekat Adigun writes from University of Ibadan.