There exists a mixed opinion over the issue of gender equality. Some people advocate the stance that women contribution in various fields of life conveniently describe that women are doing equally well.
However, the number of girls employed and educated lags far behind that of men, and genuinely speaking these are some of the basics that not only make the women dependent, and socially recessive but more vulnerable to violence and discrimination as well.
There exists a mixed opinion over the issue of gender equality in society. Some people go with the optimistic viewpoint and advocate the stance that women contribution in various fields of life conveniently describe that women are doing equally well. However, some go with the generally established notion that gender equality is far from reality but instead a myth.
No matter which opinion convinced you the most, there’s no doubt in a bitter reality that gender equality is merely a myth, especially in third-world societies. The number of girls employed and educated lags far behind that of men and genuinely speaking these are some of the basics that not only make the women dependent, and socially recessive but more vulnerable to violence as well. Worldwide, nearly 1 in 4 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are neither employed nor in education or training – compared to 1 in 10 boys.
Poor access to education
In order to establish the argument that gender equality is a myth one can compare the number of girls going to school to that of the boys. According to UNESCO estimates, around the world, 132 million girls are out of school, including 34 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and another 67 million of upper-secondary school age.
In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries. And in many countries, among girls who do enter primary school, only a small portion will reach and far fewer will complete secondary school. COVID-19 Pandemic only made things worse for the number of girls going to schools as many among the girls are now entering the early-child marriages due to prolonged school closure.
Domestic violence against women
Another aspect that highlights the fact that gender equality is far from existence is the amount and intensity of domestic violence committed against women. Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.
Estimates published by WHO indicate that globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
The COVID-19 crisis has also put the spotlight on the frequency and intensity of domestic violence around the world — the UN Population Fund in April 2020 estimated a 20 percent increase in violence during the initial three-month lockdown period. Women are subjected to various forms of violence especially in less developed societies.
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There are many forms of domestic violence against women ranging from psychological abuse in the form of controlling behavior, economic abuse or pressures, and social isolation; physical in the form of torturing, beating, or slapping, and that too without any legal consequences. Domestic violence is somewhat endemic to third-world societies like that of Pakistan and unfortunately, it is something that has become socially accepted norm and morally justified quite often.
Differential job opportunities
Yet another feature that testifies the biased perception about gender equality is the differential job opportunities for women. Also, women are less paid workers in various job fields. The ILO reports that globally women represent 40pc of total employment, but make up 57pc of the cadre of part-time workers; 69pc of low earners are women.
In South Asia, over 80pc of women who don’t work in agriculture are in informal employment, including domestic work and piece-rate manufacturing jobs. Furthermore, women workers most likely to lose their jobs especially those who are engaged in informal work.
Gendered discrimination in job culture
Gendered discrimination in job culture is also a thing to understand about the deep-seated patriarchy and gender bias. So-called women’s jobs, which are jobs that have historically had majority-female workforces, such as home health aides and child care workers, tend to offer lower pay and fewer benefits than so-called men’s jobs, which are jobs that have had predominantly male workforces, including jobs in trades such as building and construction. These gendered differences are true across all industries and the vast majority of occupations, at all levels, from frontline workers to mid-level managers to senior leaders.
Patriarchal family system
There is also gendered discrimination in access to healthcare facilities. In clinical research, women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in trials for medicines and treatments. The healthcare needs of women are invisibilized not simply due to a lack of awareness but more as part of the dehumanization and neglect that sidelines women from social strata.
Women’s health is impacted deeply by their place within the patriarchal family system. Social and familial control over women’s sexuality, their economic dependence on men, and restrictions on their mobility determine differential access of males and females to health services.
The existing nutrition gap between the male and female is also busting the myth of gender equality. Despite so much progress and awareness on various fronts, the nutrition gap is still the case for many among women. Women get insufficient nutrition because of the discrimination inside Pakistani households.
If we look at the health status of Pakistani women, even in today’s modern era low literacy levels, inequitable access to health and nutrition, and restrictions on economic activities of women have been widely observed. Intra household bias in food distribution leads to nutritional deficiencies among female children.
High rates of maternal mortalities and moral interpretations of women’s health services
Neglected case of maternal mortality is also a fact that signifies that women life matters the least. Maternal mortality, which primarily burdens developing countries, reflects the greatest divide between rich and poor. If maternal healthcare in a country like Pakistan is analyzed beyond moral implications, there exist serious lapses in healthcare systems. According to the latest survey, the maternal mortality rate in Pakistan currently stands at 186 deaths per 100,000 births.
Although this figure has improved as compared to those reported over the past years but the MMR is still very high due to unsafe healthcare practices. This is especially pronounced for access to safe abortion services which alone avert 1 of every 10 maternal deaths in India. Primarily due to confidentiality concerns, poor women prefer private services which are often offered by untrained providers and may be expensive.
Dowry-related harassment of women also signals a discriminatory approach towards women. No man is ever asked to give valuables or cash to inlaws as per societal norms. Only girls are required to bring valuables as well as cash in some cases at the time of marriage.
Dowry is essentially some kind of gifts given to the groom’s family along with the bride and includes cash, jewelry, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils, vehicles, and other household items that help the newlyweds furnishing the home.
The dowry system put a great financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, the dowry system leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional abuse and injury to even deaths. The practice of dowry deaths and murders continues to take place unchecked in many parts of India and Pakistan, which has further added to the concerns of enforcement.
Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide by hanging herself or consuming poison. Dowry deaths also include bride burning where brides are doused in kerosene and set ablaze by the husband or his family.
Sometimes, due to their abetment to commit suicide, the bride may end up setting herself on fire. The irony is that the families even with good educational backgrounds still take pride in accepting expensive dowry items from the bride’s family in the name of dowry – an accepted social evil.
Prevalence of transphobic hate-crimes
Gender inequality is not only limited to women alone on this planet. Transgender individuals and communities experience shocking amounts of violence and discrimination. In addition to experiencing high rates of domestic and sexual violence, trans and non-binary people are often the targets of transphobic hate crimes.
The violence against transgender people starts early in life, that transgender people are at risk for multiple types and incidences of violence, and that this threat lasts throughout their lives.
Lesser role in politics
Last but not the least, there remained a persistent gender gap in politics over the years in human history. Even 100 years after women got the right to vote by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, women make up more than half the population, yet account for less than one-third of all elected officials at the city, state, and national levels combined. Also, none of the women has ever been raised to the position of the President of the United States of America. Women are putting themselves forward for elections more and more, yet their numbers are still far behind those of men.
According to UNDP, women are still underrepresented in politics, parliaments, and public life. Women make up less than 23 percent of parliamentarians, with an average of 18 percent in the Arab region, while men make up more than 77 percent, leaving a more than 50 percent gender gap. Attitudes towards women candidates are still largely characterized by deeply ingrained stereotypes, and political opponents will often use those stereotypes to question women’s capabilities.
In short, gender equality is still something in the air. Various societies have progressed on the increasing role of women alongside men but that progress still doesn’t fit the definition of gender equality. Some out-of-the-box solutions are needed to bring social justice and that may not be possible without educating the men as well as women. Starting from the early education centers gender equality needs to be taught at every stage of life.