Equality is the state of every individual being equal, especially in status, rights or opportunities. However, up till the 21st century, gender equality is still a prevalent issue. Men and women across the globe do not enjoy equal privileges. Gender equality is the equal right of both men and women to have access to opportunities and resources, including the right to participate in the economic sphere and have a say in making important decision. If achieving gender equality can return the $12 trillion in GDP that was forgone due to gender disparity, allowing equal roles in households, encourage individual expression, who is to disagree to the bountiful benefits gender equality could bring to the society, communities and individuals?
Desirability is one thing, but to follow through and execute such a plan to achieve gender parity is another. With this said, it is evident that there have been an increasing presence of women rights movements and organisations that champion the rights of women, to ensure that equal opportunities are given to them. These feminist movements have made headways especially in the developed nations such as Singapore with AWARE. For instance, AWARE advocates for equal opportunities at work and promotion. Employers could be taken to task if they are found to have dismissed a female staff inappropriately due to her being pregnant and needing to pay maternity leave. Feminist organisations as such have been on the rise to outlaw discrimination against women and promote for equal opportunities in terms of schooling for them as a first step towards empowerment especially in the developing world. Coupled together with the fact that there are much more educated people in the world, many do not believe that solely men are able to lead due to their “manly traits”. Influential men such as former US president Barack Obama promotes for equality of opportunity, and with such a large amount of supporter count, the goal is gender equality is becoming increasingly realistic in time to come.
However, detractors may argue that feminist groups have not made that much significance of headway in the fight for women’s fights and equal opportunities in terms of treatment for them. An article by BBC news reported that fewer than one in five young women would call themselves a feminist, polling in the UK and US suggests. Feminism is the doctrine advocating social, politics, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. However, in recent years, effects of movements started by feminist groups have in fact seen criticism and backlash instead of supporters. This is due to the fact that feminism has been tied to different stereotypes of women such as being man-hating, lesbianism or lack of femininity. As a result, many women refuse to be associated to such terms. This has instead proven the ideal of gender inequality to be unrealistic as it is not something that can be easily attained.
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Newton’s third law of physics states: for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And in this paragraph, we will be exploring the opposite reaction. There have been many unintended consequences rooted off from movements such as the #MeToo movement. In an article titled “Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Costs.”recently published by Bloomberg, many men have simply avoided women in fear of being entangled in accusations of sexual misconduct. As a result, many men have refused to coach, mentor or hire women, depriving women of the equal opportunity they deserve be it jobs or picking up a new skill and in turn ironically widening the gender gap, proving an opposite effect of such empowering movements which led to a two step forward, three step backward reaction.
Inarguably, biological differences in men and women may be a factor as to why equal opportunities are not given to both sexes. It is impossible to accord everyone equal opportunities in this world especially since inequality is something that is inherent. Every individual possesses different conditions, skill sets and abilities and thereby making it impossible to cast everyone the same opportunity. Science has proven that men are physically stronger than women, with 12 kilograms more skeletal muscle mass. This may explain why some industries which require heavy physical work are much more suited for men. Many also claim that women have a more “maternal bone” in their body which explains why the female workforce takes up 97.6 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers. This may lead critics to believe that gender equality is undesirable and unrealistic, mainly because they believe in the notion of how females and males have certain skill sets and fixed type of jobs they should be taking up.
Attaining gender equality would greatly improve economic growth. According to McKinsey & Co., the world is leaving around $12 trillion in GDP on the table because of the gender gap. Women’s representation in leadership roles have proven to obtain positive outcomes in organisations. Companies like Catalyst and Credit Suisse have reported that companies with more women in leadership and on boards have a higher correlation of profitability and financial performance. Should industries proactively hardwire gender parity in the future of work through effective training, narrowing the emerging gender gaps and reversing trends that we see today, can definitely help boost economic growth. Boosting economic growth is a win-win situation for everyone so if it is attainable via gender equality, why not?
In conclusion, to say that gender equality is undesirable is an extremely reductive view of the issue. Granted, some may stick to the traditionalist thinking of how women should stay at home to take care of the kids and men being the sole breadwinner of the family. However, when it comes to the big picture of thinking about the good of society, gender equality is always desirable due to the multitude of benefits it brings about to not only society, but communities and individuals. In an ideal world, gender equality would be both desirable and realistic, but that is not the world we live in today. The fight for gender equality is a marathon not a sprint, and it is at least 200 years away from us. We can keep on fighting and striving for gender equality rights, but by the time things may finally take a better turn, we may not even be there to witness it. And thus, I wholeheartedly agree with the statement of how gender equality is a desirable but unrealistic goal.