‘Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It’s a precondition for meeting the challenges of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.’
The language of equality is not foreign, nor is it reserved for the privileged classes; equality is a human right afforded to every person around the world. Equality has never reached the masses because greed has prevented global leaders, teachers and students from revelling in the achievement of impartiality. First came the fight to end slavery, then the civil rights movement and, now, women are at the helm of a new era of equal opportunities; they are at the forefront of a global movement and their willingness to challenge the status quo is admirable.
It is the future of societies around the world. Women have steadily challenged hypocrisy by taking pen to paper and writing news articles, books, master theses and narrating their plight to anyone who is willing to listen. Simply put, the language of equality is a human right and something that every person — regardless of race, sex, religion, or social custom — deserves.
People deserve quality education, which encompasses the right to equal opportunity as a fundamental human right that allows people of all social statures the ability to improve their lives through economic empowerment and personal and social development. Gender gaps not only persist in the 21st Century, but they also plague industries and are responsible for women being paid less than men for equal work. Ensuring equitable and gender-responsive education and empowerment in our systems is a crucial step towards ensuring that male and female students of all ages have equal access to education and thus economic and social empowerment.
Education is a catalyst for gender revolution that puts gender-specific issues in the public domain, so that people become more sensitized to the plight of gender gaps in businesses and governments and inequalities across the world. Gender sensitization is imperative for changing the stereotypes and platitudes of both men and women and the community at large. Achieving gender equality and parity is necessary because the attainment of such an objective within society will not only empower millions, but also spur economic development en masse.
A curriculum that considers gender issues has already been developed, but its implementation worldwide is severely lacking. While pursuing different educational objectives in different fields exacerbates both male and female bias, one obvious area with male gender bias is the field of artificial intelligence.
Education must embrace male and female views while mitigating their biases; every person must learn how different sexes, religions and people think, so that they are sensitive to others’ needs and utilize empathy as a core virtue within education. Education needs to promote gender equality by being mindful that humans are innately different just like a person’s unique fingerprints. A rigid system will not work. A system that is flexible and adjustable to specific needs can better propagate educational parity and improve retention rates, as well as people’s ability to empathise with those they encounter in society through business and in daily life.
Gender parity and gender equality differ as it is evident that parity is acquired when the same proportion of girls and boys are enrolled in educational institutes with the aim of enhancing their educational qualifications, skills and abilities. Gender parity may not be based on a merit system, so a balance between equality and parity will not only be challenging, but will also be difficult to achieve. You either promote the best candidates based on merit, or you promote based on gender equality. A delicate balance can be struck, but every business situation, company, or government will have a different view on what works and what does not.
Sensitizing students through courses in gender equality and women’s studies will play a big role in educational institutes that wish to achieve gender parity and equality, as well as empowering all the people regardless of social platitudes and norms. These endeavours at promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality through advocacy, capacity networking and gender sensitization that are not only vital for social progress, but also important steps in the fight against inequality and towards the achievement of human rights.
Gender equality is the process of creating an environment that provides equal and fair treatment to girls and boys, men and women, and other gender types defined by the “gender bread person”.
Changes in government policies and applying holistic strategies can gain traction and make progress in the fight for gender equality. When the status of men and women, their access to products, services and resources and their ability to contribute to, participate in, and benefit from, economic, social, cultural and political activities are equal, equality becomes not simply a thought, but also a reality.
Attaining equality is not a short-term goal, but rather generational regarding education, implementation and analysing the impact of what works or does not work. We must care about the entry of people into the workforce and ensure they have continued education, as well as interventions, when issues arise that place undue stress on people with gender issues. Equality of education implies equal opportunities to accomplish goals and be challenged with work within a gender equality framework that focuses on real experiences and trainings that empower people to act with fairness, non-bias and an empathetic ear.
There are four dimensions of gender equality that are multi-faceted within all human relationships. Several studies have established that the achievement of education for girls is not mechanical in transforming their lives to benefit from more economic opportunities, but wealth and the ability to earn a higher salary or participate in the political process has steadily risen over the past 30 years. More social mobilisation campaigns aimed at increasing the status of women and girls will benefitthe society and accurately reflect the progress in terms that can be leveraged in research, business practices and government structures.
It is vital to ensure that gender concerns are identified and addressed at the highest levels of politics and spread onto public policy and governance. Academics must have knowledge of the best practices in gender equality and treat all individuals they teach equally. The integration of gender awareness into our education systems is paramount not only to making progress with the gender revolution that embraces our differences, but also our ability to empathise with people.
Analysis of how precise educational programmes and policies have an influence on girls and boys in different ways is vital for accounting for different roles, responsibilities, requirements, interests and implementation of educational programmes and their project design. The attitudes, approaches, learning abilities and perspectives are different among girls and boys and allow our society the ability to leverage the benefits of differences for empowerment and economic opportunities. Identifying the differences in these areas is important for carrying out certain tasks and functions that benefit society and how people interact with the world they inhabit.
Promoting gender equality in education, recognising and reporting on such indicators as total enrolment of girls and boys, gender equality in enrolment, equality in educational outcomes and completion rates of girls and boys helps policy-makers formulate measures to promote gender equality and not just empowerment of women and girls.
Implementing equality in the procedures that govern education for women and girls helps weave their ideas and personalities into the fabric of learning for both males and females, while allowing men and women to work together and collaborate on ways to achieve gender equality and parity. Deliberations on the social and cultural barriers that inhibit education for women and girls is as important for motivating change through inclusivity as sharing ideas in a safe environment that will allow men and women to make changes and improve outdated processes or educational programmes.
How many more fatalities will it take for the glass ceiling to crumble? It took a schoolgirl to be shot in the head to convince people to shift from bullets to the pen; with ink, we get peace and when we read, we reason why it took violence and an almost tragic death to change world view on social norms and morals. There is always an empty seat in classrooms and a girl somewhere with the desire to learn and fill that void and achieve her dreams of a better life for her, for her family and for her country.
In a sense, people need to unlearn the platitudes of the past. Education must not be something one has to earn; we must feed curious and hungry minds with the right food for thought and so move towards personal and social growth. The problems with girls’ education need to be placed on centre stage with the other issues in society and be openly debated for progress to be made. It is high time we saw to it that the language of equality no longer gets lost in translation, but becomes mainstream communication.
Women from landless households, from social and economic backward communities and those living in the most backward regions of Third World countries have all too often been bypassed by educational and developmental processes. Adapt and transform to define how education must change to keep pace with social norms in the 21st Century. If you teach a woman, you teach a family. I believe if you teach a woman, you can also free a nation.
(By Richard DiPilla, Founder, Global Goodwill Ambassadors; Dr Reetha Dinesh, Director of Human Rights, GGA; and JB Graves, National Policy Research, GGA, US)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the organisation itself.