During recent decades, an increasing number of people throughout the world are becoming aware of how crucial gender equality is. Men and women as citizens should have the same power, education, choices and treatment. However, it does not mean that people should treat men and women exactly the same; the key is the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of men and women do not depend on whether they are born male or female.
The importance of women’s rights
With regards to the aspect of the population, economic and development programs, we need to acknowledge that women's rights are intrinsically linked to society’s sustainable development (Roy). Also, women deserve equal treatment because that is a basic human right. Respect for women also means peace between the genders.
Gender equality in Australia
Historically, Australia has had a big improvement in gender equality since the appointment of the first federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 1984 (Broderick). Since 2010, Australia has had a lot of firsts in terms of gender equality–the first female prime minister, Julia Gillard; first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce; first attorney-general, Nicola Roxon as well as several state Premiers. In addition, Australia is ranked fifth out of 128 countries on the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index in 2012, from which we can see the advancement of women’s economic power (Bowman).
- Nevertheless, there are also some drawbacks in gender equality in Australia. Firstly, because of the lack of flexible and family-friendly policies, there is an imbalance between men's and women's care responsibilities and working hours, and the wage gap between men and women has widened further(Workplace gender equality agency).
- Moreover, the proportion of women holding chair positions at companies is significantly lower than men. Sometimes, there is an invisible obstacle in front of women which we call the glass ceiling, it means intangible barriers that prevent women achieving a higher position (Lewis). Although women have the same ability as men and sometimes even exceed them, once they compete with other male employees, males have a higher possibility of getting the promotion.
The reason behind these figures：
The collision between work and family for women is one of the most serious gender inequalities they are confronted with, which directly becomes a barrier to women’s career and is associated with the gender pay gap. There are data that show women take the majority of childcare which shows the unequal division of care work between men and women. It leads to women usually experiencing irreversible loss of earnings when they need to take time off from paid-work for the sake of looking after children. Moreover, there is a negative impact of women taking parental leave which will affect their wages and chance for promotion because as the social competition is heating up, there is no leniency for women to leave the post of duty that long (Workplace gender equality agency).
- The inequality between genders in Australia is also reflected in the limited job choices, which can be seen as resulting from stereotypes. From the point of view of the public, some jobs seem to only belong to men or women by nature. For instance, there is a disproportion between men and women who choose to be teachers, especially early childhood teachers, nurses and other caring work. Despite some companies or social platforms boosting women to be engineers and encouraging men to be teachers, the ideology of different genders is still very strong. Also, it can be one of the reasons that cause the gender pay gap due to the nature of the work.
Gender equality in Saudi Arabia
In the aspect of gender equality, Saudi Arabia is in a less developed stage but is progressing slowly at the same time. Even a little tiny step of improvement will be seen as monumental. Gender equality can be seen as the most tough work to implement in this country.
In 2018, the 24th of June, was an extraordinary day for all Saudi women because they were authorized permission to drive a car. Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that did not allow women to drive until last summer. Many people were fighting for this for a long period. (Jaafari)
Saudi women no longer need permission to go out, they can travel the world freely without any male guardian’s permission. Those rules were enforced by society and law which place restrictions on women’s freedom. (Deonath)
The reason for reform
Saudi Arabia is now in an unprecedented economic depression. In the last several decades, rich petroleum income has enabled the country to build a huge welfare system from cradle to coffin. However, the population is growing rapidly and there is a quickly aging population. Feast to famine, in 2014, oil prices plunged, and although they have now rebounded, they have had a serious negative impact on Saudi revenue. The young crown prince launched the reforms, for which women in the workforce has become crucial. This makes lifting the ban on female driving an important step in improving the Saudi economy's efficiency in the long run. It may bring more educated women into the labor market. (Ketchell)
More restrictions (unsolved):
Hitherto, although some of them have been canceled like women are allowed to get a driver's license, not all women are allowed to drive due to the man who makes the decisions do not always agree with them. Furthermore, when women need to go to the public area, they still have to cover most of their bodies, except their eyes and hands. Moreover, Saudi Arabia also is a country who implement gender segregation. In most of the public areas like restaurants, bank, university and public transportation, women and men usually need to be segregated. Otherwise, they will be accused due to the unlawful mixing and women often face more severe penalties. (Kruft) Except that, Saudi women also face the low wages, the pay gap between saudi women and men are 56%, and Saudi women's unemployment rate is also the highest in the world. (Al-dubais) In brief, in the past two years, Saudi Arabia has some improvement in women’s rights, but there is still a long way to go to attain gender equality and it is going to be more and more hard because of the opposition of the religions.
For gender equality (own thinking)
Women, this gender should not bring any special and inequality. Everyone should be educated to be a complete and independent person, not just a woman. In my opinion, we all should support and advocate feminism, but now the word 'feminism' is too misleading. Women's rights are men's rights and human rights. Women's rights are not how noblewoman is, nor privileges, but equal rights. Women's rights ultimately strive for not protection and care, not special treatment, but the empowerment of each individual, equality of opportunity, elimination of gender dualism and gender stereotypes, and even ultimately downplay the importance of gender. From my perspective, the more unfair treatment women receive, the more unnecessary responsibilities men assume. Respect for women's freedom of choice, but also for men to strive for freedom of choice. To strive for more rights for women is also to strive for more rights for men. Women's rights are human rights. It's not about women, it's about everyone. Whether male or female, we all have the right not to be evaluated or defined. Gender equality in the true sense is when everyone is free to choose the life they want.