WOMEN UP – The Past, Present and Future of Women in Society
As Njideka Harry, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Youth for Technology Foundation noted, “If Nigerian women had the same opportunities as men, they could drive the GDP up by $13.9 billion.” In developing countries, gender inequality has been an ongoing dilemma that has been masked for longer than anyone can remember. Although we have come a long way from the beginning of humanity (such as with women’s suffrage and rights in the United States) we still have a long way to go. For instance, the Arab Republic of Egypt prohibits women from stepping outside of the house without a male’s consent, no matter what age. Even in the United States of America, some companies may pay women less money than their male counterparts. The fact that only one country in the world forbids women from driving may come as a relief to people, but that one country is made up of about 10 million Saudi Arabian women struggling.
Having access to proper education is a privilege some people may take for granted. However, there are 62 million girls all over the world who do not have access to an education due to poverty or social taboos. America’s former first lady, Michelle Obama, took an important step toward resolving this problem by initiating Let Girls Learn, the most significant education petition in history, with over 10 million signatures supporting it.
The World Literacy Foundation (WLF) is working tirelessly towards educating boys and girls in poor countries for free. They provide books, educational resources and literacy support to impoverished children who are struggling to read. Through their Sun Books initiative, they also provide e-books and digital literacy tools to children in rural and remote classrooms in Africa with limited electricity or Internet access. And last but not least important, WLF is a strong and consistent voice to advocate for literacy and gender equality around the world.
In terms of leadership positions, only 32 percent of all administrative positions in the world are taken up by women. Although this number has doubled from 1955, women are still underrepresented. Of all the companies listed on the S&P 500 market index, only 4.8 percent are led by a female CEO. Furthermore, the United States of America, one of the richest and foremost nations in the world, has never had a female president. In fact, until the 1920s, women were not allowed to legally vote, earning this right after immigrants and former slaves.
Child marriage is also a prominent issue particularly in South Asia and Africa. Annually, two hundred and fifty million girls under the age of 15 are forced to marry someone they have never met or talked to. Husbands can mistreat and abuse their wives, giving them no say in decisions and forcing them to live in their husbands’ shadow.
Child marriage has various causes, including tradition, poverty, and insecurity. Girls Not Brides is an international initiative working towards ending child marriage and its causes by persuading governments in countries where this is prominent and the general public to take this issue seriously and act against child marriage. Broadcasting is another effective strategy to raise awareness within communities all over the world too.
To conclude, gender inequality is not just an issue for women, but for humankind as a whole, there cannot be denied that this issue is still a reality in many countries and measures to reduce or even eliminate disparities between genders should be taken not only by organisations or governments but by individuals as well.
You can help out from where you are right now! Hundreds of communities fighting for this cause can be found with a simple Google search, and money can be donated by just a few clicks. Also, you can help to raise awareness of the issue and convince other people to join the cause as well. If we work together to fix this crisis, we would be one step closer to our goal: gender equality.