Recent years have seen a rapid growth in public display of support and understanding surrounding gender inequality and its impact on society as well as on the economy. As early as the 1800s, the rhetoric surrounding the rights of women to be given the same opportunities and freedom as men has been showcased through a progression of ‘waves of feminism’ (Grady, 2018). The definition of “gender inequality” refers to a social process by which people are regarded differently and unfavourably, under analogous situations, on the basis of their gender. These disparities amongst each gender originate from biological, traditional and psychological differences. With an increasing public rhetoric surrounding gender inequalities, seen through movements such as #metoo which brings to light issues faced by women on a daily basis, ways are paved to improve the issues faced by women against gender-based discrimination. This essay seeks to analyse the impacts of the inequality women face in education, workplace, and violence as well as its impact on society and the economy as a whole.
Education is a fundamental right for all humans, as stipulated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNCHR, 1948). A right which women have been struggling to achieve since the 1800s (Thorpe, 2017). This right allows women the freedom to attend school, obtain their desired certificates and acquire relevant academic skills needed in the workforce. A census in 1990 revealed that in the poorest 5 percent of each country, only 5 percent of women had attained some level of high school education which is half that of men. Conversely, in the richest quartile, over 50 percent of women achieved equivalent education to which men had an 88 percent fulfilment (Dollar & Gatti, 1999). Research shows a severe decline of investment in education to promote the attendance of girls in schools (Dollar & Gatti, 1999). The term “investment in education” refers to the act of funding schools to ensure that their basic needs are met and to bring about improvements in the quality of education (UNESCO, 1999). According to research, Education promotes economic development, increases productivity, contributes to the development of personal and social life, and reduces social inequalities. (UNESCO, 1999). According to a research done by Dollar and Gatti (1999), reducing funding for promotion of female education rather than increasing it will only result in slower economic growth rather than the stimulation this investment can offer. The same research article stipulates that promoting education of girls is a good investment that will in turn boost national income, generating greater gender equality in education as well as other areas. The research presents clear data which shows that when women are given equal rights to gain access to education, it leads to a profoundly positive impact on society and the economy.
While equality in access to education is an issue that can be targeted to certain countries, gender-based harassment is an issue faced by women in all parts of the globe. 35 percent of women worldwide are projected to have, at some point in their lives, struggled with sexual violence excluding sexual harassment (WHO, 2013). Sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted or offensive sexual attention, suggestions, or talk, especially from an employer or other person in a position of power” according to the Cambridge dictionary. On the other hand, according to the United Nations defined it as “an unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature” (United Nations, 2019). Recently, more women have been coming forward and directing attention toward sexual misconducts perpetrated by male celebrities and men in power. One particular aspect of the event which garnered media attention was the increasing number of incidents which focused on gender discrimination in the workplace, and the allegations made against male celebrity, Harvey Weinstein. These allegations and worldwide support led to the birth of an influential movement called “#Metoo”, which consequently opened doors to a modern sexist reckoning (Wexler, Robbennolt, & Murphy, 2018). Prominent male figures, other than Weinstein, who have been called out during the movement include US-President Donald Trump, comedian Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar and several more. Over 19 women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, 50 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct and numerous criminal and civil cases were filled against Nassar (Wexler, Robbennolt, & Murphy, 2018). The impact that violence and sexual harassment against women has on societies and to its economy is a needless strain brought upon healthcare services. Victims of these assaults are prone to require long term mental and physical health services, which, compared to women who have not suffered from abuse, increases public spending on healthcare (WHO, 2013). Furthermore, evidence supports that there is a greater rate of depression, abortion, and reception of HIV recorded amongst women who have struggled with physical or sexual abuse from their partner which increases the risk of public health and safety on society as a whole. Hence, based on the data that this research presents, should violence against women become reduced if not eradicated, the negative impacts that sexual/ domestic violence against women has society and the economy would lessen and if eradicated, non-existent.
Another issue deeply rooted with inequality of gender can be seen in discrepancies in wages between males and females. From an official report from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on June 2017, the pay gap for certain jobs at the median wage was 35 to 50 percent (Seow, 2019). Altogether, the median monthly wage of a female working adult in full-time work was 9 percent or $410 less than a male working adult in full-time work. According to the article written by Seow (2019), a female working adult in Singapore earns less than a male working adult ordinarily. The article also illustrates wage inequality in Singapore. According to the study, women are often paid less than men. The 5 jobs with men earning more than their female counterparts include Specialist medical practitioner, Printing, binding and related machine operator, Cook, Policy and planning manager, and Supervisor/ General foreman of assemblers and quality checkers. However, women in secretarial, housekeeping and nursing jobs earn more than male equivalent in 28 more vocations. On the other hand, men earn more than women in 102 more vocations. The impact that this has on society as well as the economy is that it can produce a social conflict that might hinder economic growth. Opportunity cost of children declines if women are paid less, which can lead to higher population growth, reduced capital per worker and a downshift of economic development (Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2013). The events that took place during the “#Metoo” movement also presents clear evidence on the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace. According to a research by Hudson, D. (2019), during the movement, an increase in calls was reported by the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre in Canada. Many employers have reportedly experienced an increase in complaints relating to sexual harassment presumably because of the rise of public awareness regarding the issues women face and the number of women who spoke out against it. Hence, it is clear from the data presented that gender inequality in the workplace as well as violence against women have undesirable impacts on society and the economy.
In conclusion, the research above has shown the three impacts that gender inequality against women has toward society and the economy. The three impacts relating to inequality in education, workplace as well as violence against women show that women play an important role in contributing to the growth and stability of the economy and society. According to research, there would be a decrease in the amount of strain placed upon healthcare services should women cease becoming victims of domestic/sexual violence. Furthermore, it is evident that women who are given the opportunity to attend school are able to promote positive social interaction skills as well as economic growth and thus be of good use to the economy and society at large. Nevertheless, it was not possible to cover issues concerning transgendered women and men who also face gender-based discrimination in all parts of the world. From the analysis done, it can be concluded that women deserve the right to fight for their rights to achieve equality. It is reasonable to predict that women might be able to achieve equality in the years to come since movements such as “#metoo”, which encouraged women to speak out against harassment, has helped other women who were afraid to speak out to get the help that they need. Thus, some viable recommendations would be to set measures in place so as to encourage women as well as girls to attend schools, enforce stricter policies to deter sexual harassment in and outside of the workplace and stronger laws to protect women in all parts of the world so as to balance the stability and growth of the economy and society.