Gender equality has been debated for a very long time and across many different societies. In some time periods and some locations, it has become the focus of political, legal and social movements. In the international arena, gender equality has been identified as a major world issue.
The United Nations (UN) (Links to an external site.) (United nations: Gender Equality and women’s empowerment) highlighted Gender Equality as #5 in its list of 17 goals to transform our world, arguing that “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” Globalgoals.org (Links to an external site.) (Goal 5: Gender Equality l The Global Goals) further identified nine targets to transform this mandate into action.
In a broad and general sense, gender equality refers to equal access to available resources and opportunities without prejudice with respect to gender. The International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency, further defined the concept, stating,
Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.
— ABC Of Women Worker’s Rights and Gender Equality, ILO, 2000. p. 48.
Clearly, this is a complex and far-reaching issue, and therefore, one that is often the subject of much controversy and debate, particularly as societies struggle to best implement fair practices.
What do you think?
- Do you believe that gender inequality exists? Why or why not? What evidence do you have that supports your view?
- Has gender equality changed over time? Why or why not? How? Give specific evidence to support your position.
- How does culture affect issues of gender equality? Be specific and give examples.
- What aspects of the Ted Talks (and the BBC video, if you chose to watch it) do you agree with? What aspects do you disagree with? Explain your position.
- How would your life, past and present, be different if you were a member of the opposite sex? Be specific.
- Respond to your 2 classmates.