For over centuries now women have been considered as a weaker gender, who are primarily meant to maintain the household and are often seen as a burden to the family. The inception of this concept can be dated back to the early man times, when hunting was the primary source of living and men carried out this activity given the lower physical strength of women (Blau, 2016). The process of child birth have made men become more protective of women and slowly over the years women have taken over the households while men earned. The phenomenon continued even in medieval times where several regions considered woman a tradable good, sometimes in line with the cattle owned. Even at higher levels of Kings and Rulers, women were seen as a possession. However, thanks to the modern ethical interference, there has been tremendous improvement in the way women have been treated (Jayachandran, 2015). Today, in most of the developing countries women are participating in what was once considered a man’s business and are raising voices to be an active part of the society. Though the gender inequality is not completely abolished, the world is attempting to make a steady progress (Fincher, 2016).
Gender equality is ethically problematic. When we view this point from say theory of Utilitarianism, that states that an action is right if it leads to happiness for a great number of people, gender inequality at the very basic takes away this happiness from a gender that forms half the population of the planet (Wisborg, 2014). Education, health and survival are basics needs of any human followed by a greater ambition of leadership, power and rule making. When women are not given this opportunity, they are not only being deprived rights and happiness but the world is losing the ability to use powerful minds. If women are not given a chance, the world is essentially running only on half the brain power available. The theory of Intellectualism, which dictates that the best action is the one that best fosters and promotes knowledge also support the need for gender equality (Pasque, 2015).
When we pick the golden rule from categorical imperative, a philosophical concept by Immanuel Kant, the gender inequality problem is more visible (Peterson, 2014). The rule says not to impose on others what you would not want to impose on yourself. Applying the same, the right to education, welfare and health cannot be denied to women on gender bias. Gender equality is desired as it is directly linked with the sustainability of the society. If female feticide, mass rape, male child preference continue, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the humans would cease to exist (Marsden, 2015). At a higher level, gender equality promotes decision making capability of women and men, thereby increasing the chances of much rational decisions. In simplest words, gender inequalities between men and women effect the development and prosperity for the society (Branisa, 2013). Providing equal opportunities for women lets them use their talents in the work environment and make better choices for themselves and their families and communities.
There are several aspects of gender inequality that effect women. From health and welfare to leadership and politics each of these aspects are ethically problematic. However, education has a major role to play. The country of Singapore has put in tremendous effort over the past decade to ensure an increase in female literates. The latest data does not disappoint as seen in the below figure. However, the bridge between the male and the female literates is still persistent.
Figure 1: Educational Data by Department of Statistics Singapore
When we look at the world as a whole the difference is vast. Based on a fact sheet published by UNESCO in 2013, 17 million girls are not expected to receive primary education ever. Of the then illiterate 774 million, two-thirds are women.
A girl’s education has a huge impact of the society. It is well versed that knowledge is power and education could just be the way to eliminate several aspects of gender inequality including the most impenetrable issue of power struggle, where supreme power is barely seen with a woman. The reason for education being the most ethical problem of gender inequality is that, education creates awareness (Wagner, 2015). Several other issues such as health, equal pay, entry into senior management levels, increasing population, ability to earn can all be eliminated through education.
Let’s begin from the primary issue of female birth. India and China the two most populous countries in the world are also known for their affection to a male child. There are several reported cases of gender based abortions and it is illegal in India to find the gender of the child before birth for the same reason. This is because, women are assumed to be a burden to the family since they are usually allowed only household chores and do not bring income into the family. An educated girl in this case would not be an issue, as she would support the family just as a man would. Also, an educated women, would never accept for a gender biased abortion, as she would have the knowledge of laws and regulations and would also have a stronger and logical decision making capability (Riley, 2017). When stood strong, a girl child could be grown by a single mother in case the family does not support.
Even as the world grows at an accelerating pace in most of the countries the art of cooking especially in a household is still a woman’s expertise. A mother provides for the entire family and it is an understatement to say that the nutrition of the family depends on the woman. With increasing diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancers, nutrition and fitness have taken a lead role in basic necessities. Most of the nutrition related issues today can be handled through a proper diet from childhood. An educated mother would be hence well aware of what to feed, how to cook and what to use in a kitchen, when compared to an uneducated women. The need for micro nutrients and quantities of macro nutrients, what needs to be consumed when, can all be handled in the kitchen itself, decreasing the number of nutrition deficits and thereby ensuring a healthy world.
The chances of an educated women finding a job are higher than that of an uneducated women, simply because of the growing technology. Today even domestic works are expected to use cell phones and speak, read and write a language. It is needless to say that to secure higher paid corporate jobs would need educated women. When a woman is deprived education in the first place the number of jobs open to her qualifications fall significantly, hence forcing her to be domestic helper in most cases. Education gives woman a chance to compete in the world.
It is clear that women are not entrusted with higher roles when compared to men. But when a women is more educated to a man, the chances of her being in higher role increase tremendously. It is indeed an extra effort that women have to make to be recognized, however, it is just a step in curbing gender inequality. An educated women, would be aware of the positions, her rights in the company, the value she adds to an organization and hence has a chance to demand more pay if not equal. The organizations around the world, are recognizing women talent and several of them have female CEO’s. For all this to happen education is primary.
Women are built subtle. It does not mean that they are weak, but are rather more emotional and caregiving due to the primal desire of being a mother. Most women are hence submerged behind this picture and lack skills to showcase themselves as leaders. Leaders have to be bold, confident, vocal and effective communicators. Education helps women break this barrier. Education not only teaches ways to harness knowledge but also concentrates on soft skills which are required in every aspect of life, thereby empowering women to be strong leaders.
In a research done by UNESCO, below are some interesting changes that education can bring about to the society (Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2013)
Blau, F. D. (2016). Gender, inequality, and wages. OUP Catalogue.
Branisa, B., Klasen, S., & Ziegler, M. (2013). Gender inequality in social institutions and gendered development outcomes. World Development, 45, 252-268.
Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013) (1st ed., pp. 1-4). Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girls-factsheet-en.pdf
Fincher, L. H. (2016). Leftover women: The resurgence of gender inequality in China. Zed Books Ltd..
Jayachandran, S. (2015). The roots of gender inequality in developing countries. economics, 7(1), 63-88.
Marsden, D. (2015, July). Gender Inequality. In 27th Annual Meeting. Sase.
Pasque, P. A. (2015). Disrupting the Culture of Silence: Confronting Gender Inequality and Making Change in Higher Education. K. De Welde, & A. Stepnick (Eds.). Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Peterson, C. (2014). The categorical imperative: Category theory as a foundation for deontic logic. Journal of Applied Logic, 12(4), 417-461.
Riley, E., Okabe, H., Germine, L., Wilmer, J., Esterman, M., & DeGutis, J. (2017). Correction: Gender Differences in Sustained Attentional Control Relate to Gender Inequality across Countries. PloS one, 12(1).
Wagner, C., Garcia, D., Jadidi, M., & Strohmaier, M. (2015). It's a man's wikipedia? Assessing gender inequality in an online encyclopedia. arXiv preprint arXiv:1501.06307.
Williams, C. L. (2013). The glass escalator, revisited gender inequality in neoliberal times. G
Wisborg, P. (2014). Transnational land deals and gender equality: Utilitarian and human rights approaches. Feminist Economics, 20(1), 24-51.
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