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Empower Women, Strengthen the Community

by Mariel Elisa Guerra Perez

Pages 2 and 3 of 3

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Similarly, ending child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence will help achieve gender equality. After all, child marriage, lack of adequate sanitation, and gendered violence in the classroom are some of the obstacles specific to girls when it comes to this very basic human right. As a matter of fact, women in Iran have no legal protection against domestic violence or sexual harassment, and the constitution doesn’t have a non-discrimination clause with gender as a protected category. By the year 2030, the United Nations would like to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls and end harmful practices such as arranged marriage and genital mutilation. They would also like to end all forms of gender-based violence such as trafficking, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. Both genders are affected by all of these types of abuses. Explicitly, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 have experienced sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. This tells us that 82% of all victims are female, not to neglect the boys, who make up the remaining 18%. An investigation by UN women UK released on March 10th, 2021 revealed that 97% of women aged 18-24 have beed sexually harassed. Furthermore, the vast majority of gender inequality and domestic violence is directed towards women and girls. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean men are free of domestic violence. As it happens, there are 3 million male domestic violence cases every year. These men are looked upon as cowardly and weak, while women receive nothing but support when they say what happened to them regarding the same topic. Related to this is the fact that when a woman cries, she’s simply emotional and it is completely normal, but when a man does, he's weak and not masculine enough. When a man is close to his kids he's denominated “the fun dad” or “a present father” and praised by everyone, while it's what's expected from women. While these harmful practices remain, women’s rights will continue to be associated with the false belief that these forms of violence are part of the norm. To go more in depth into the topic of child marriage, women have a harder time completing their education in less developed countries because they don’t have access to contraception, which results in women becoming mothers before they have the chance to finish school. More specifically, in many areas women have to stay at home from a young age so they can take care of the children and household, which leads to them having a profuse amount of responsibilities and not enough time nor money, leaving them with very few options, one of them being dropping out of school. To prevent this, all women everywhere should be provided sex education and reproductive health services for this to get to the point where both genders have equal opportunities in life.
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In addition, taking into consideration that everything starts with a good education because it increases the chances of getting paid well. This is especially important for women since they tend to need even more experience and credibility than men. Have you noticed that when a woman is successful the usual response is “it was luck, not skill”? Women are tremendously outnumbered in executive roles, which has played a big part in the pay gap between genders. Men are hired or promoted on potential, and women will be promoted on past-achievements. This relates to gender equality because men and women are not being given the same chances, although they have the same capacity, because people have a mindset that predisposes them to automatically think of women as less, as incapable, powerless, unable, naive. Women are often discriminated against in the job market and many countries still promote laws that place women in a secondary position. This happens in spite of the fact that organizations with an equal number of men and women at senior management level considerably outperform those that lack equal representation. Actually, statistics from the World Bank in 2016 show that 155 countries still have at least one clause that limits women's economic potential. Moreover, 41 countries prohibit women from working in factory jobs and 29 countries don’t allow women to work at night. For instance, in Russia women are barred from 456 jobs. All of this only because men consider women aren’t strong enough, that they aren’t safe, and that they can’t do the job. The seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, stated that “gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Lastly, ensuring that women not only earn the same wages as their male counterparts, but also have equal access to economic independence, benefits economies. Other fundamental needs, such as healthcare, education, and adequate food and water, are also more likely to be met for the entire family.
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Ultimately, gender equality is not a women’s issue, it's a shared issue, one that affects all of us as a community. That includes: men, women, businesses and governments. Women have had to suppress their voices in the past, but times have changed and it's about time stereotypes regarding gender do too. For us to be treated as equals, with respect, fairly and put our gender to the side, because it's irrelevant in these situations, we must share our knowledge on the topic of gender equality. Sharing what we learn is important because that way people can contribute ideas and enlarge what other people know. You can help through protests and events, and by being a considerate human being to everyone no matter their gender to create a balance among everyone. Express your opinion including what you think needs to change. Rules, laws, regulations and guidelines will not become positive actions and outcomes in society unless awareness and education at the communal and local level follows. We all deserve to be treated with respect, as equals, since we're all different physically and/or personality wise, and something like our gender should not affect the opportunities we are given.
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