The quest for gender parity all over the world is beyond just a campaign, it is a reflection of the inner yearning for societal balance driven by social justice for all. The 2019 International Women’s Day is another time to reflect on what gender equality is or should be, and why it is needed for sustainable growth in nations. As the old aphorism goes ‘where the value of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable,’ this has been the case for most women all over the world. A reason for the abuse of women is tied to the underdevelopment of the collective consciousness of humans in what is right and beneficial to the overall existence of all.
As great as the Sustainable Development Goals are towards achieving gender parity, if people do not know why they should respect and take these goals seriously then it is of no use hammering on them. And rather than becoming reactionary to societal problems, we should first seek to know and understand the root causes of these problems to be able to provide any sustainable solutions to them.
Gender balance is a given in nature; animals, plants, the human physiology are palpable proofs of how all things work effectively when in a state of balance. Therefore, the campaign for gender parity should not be competitive in its approach, rather, it should be complementary to the value of balance and necessity for mutual growth and benefit to both genders in all aspects of life. There is no need to persuade people to respect what is naturally of value to them and every human being needs to be given equal respect and value irrespective of what gender they are.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, thereby revealing the enormous importance for their development and contributions to the overall development of the world, it will be foolish to discard the smallest fraction of this huge population. However, over the years, the female gender hasn’t been given equal value and respect in the world, this also is evident in some disturbing statistics. In 2015 there were only 21 female Heads of State, over 150 countries have at least one actively sexist law and each minute 28 girls are married before they are ready. 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime, and there are approximately 781 million illiterate adults worldwide- two-thirds are women and about 63 million girls still need to go to school. The staggering statistics is a wake-up call on all humans to embrace their shared humanity in upholding the dignity of life and respect for all people.
‘‘The 2019 International Women’s Day theme Think equal, build smart, innovate for change focuses on innovative ways in which gender equality and the empowerment of women can be advanced, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.’’ Real innovation stems from the love which seeks the good of all. Gender parity shouldn’t be a one-sided struggle of two opposing standards, rather, it should be a complementary struggle upholding the equal importance of both genders in appreciation to their peculiarities, intelligence, and contributions to the development of the world.
As we celebrate women today, I call on everyone to advocate for value-based equality and not competitive equality, in doing so, we hold each other accountable for the enhancement of our collective consciousness in what is right, in what is of value and of overall benefit to all. A woman shouldn’t beg to be respected and treated fairly, she should simply be accorded respect because she is human, and should be treated equitably just like anyone else.
By Andrew Patience