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Gender Equality and its Definition

Discuss about the Gender Terms and Debate for Transgender Issues.

In our world today, the topic concerning gender has always been on the forefront with a lot of criticism and debate in some of the issues regarding the same including gender equality, transgender issues, masculinity and feminism. Gender equality has always been a major concern since it aims at ensuring fairness and equality to both male and female genders within the society. According to Aagaard (2016), gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy similar rights and opportunities across all sectors of society including economic participation and decision making and when the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of both men and women are valued equally and favored. Different countries across the world are aiming at ensuring that gender equality is achieved completely with various worldwide organizations such as WHO and United Nations hoping in to enhance this. Various public documents have included the issue of gender in the aim of promoting equality and in effort to eliminate sexism and gender bias trends. The aim of this discussion is to discuss issues evolving around gender and analyzing how various relevant public documents apply the concept of gender.

Vinogradova, (2016) argues that most organizations and institutions today tend to focus more on women and their rights all in the name of gender equality. So many women empowerment groups have been created within the society and this has led to forgetting about men who also have rights to be taken care of. In the sustainable development goals, a collection of seventeen goals set by the United Nations to transform the world and make it better, gender equality comes fifth in the set goals. In this goal the United Nations focus mainly on empowering women and ensuring that they get equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision making processes. It is true that women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in most parts of the world (McCammon at al (2018)), but as time goes by, women have realized their rights and are forming empowerment and activist groups to stand and be recognized within the society. The idea that some jobs are meant for men alone is fading as women are also up to the task and this has helped change the notion that women cannot do certain jobs.

The attention has shifted therefore towards the girl child in an effort to promote gender equality in the world. Men on the other hand have been left out in such programs since they are viewed as contented within the society and are not vulnerable to assault and violence though this is not always the case. Since 2001, World Health Organization (WHO) has published statistics called the Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) defining the average number of years a person is expected to live in full health. The statistics show that as of the year 2015, the healthy life expectancy at birth was 63.1 years. Statistics have also shown that the average life expectancy of women is higher than that of men. This is of great concern since the health of men is no longer so much looked into as compared to women in the name of gender equality. Men’s health is generally overlooked and hidden in plain sight.

Focus on Women in Gender Equality


Across the world men’s perception of the ‘male role’ inhibits important aspects of self-care and health seeking habits (Cornwall et al, (2015)). This has led to deterioration of most men’s health contributing to low life expectancy. It is greatly assumed that men can likely take care of their health concerns as compared to women. Men tend also to be more commonly involved in unhealthy social behaviors such as excessive drug consumption especially cigarettes and alcohol intake, exposure to physical and chemical hazards especially in the work place and negligence of health services such as screening (Hübner et al (2017)). In some countries like Russia, the perception of a ‘real man’ is that he is supposed to consume alcohol frequently. This has led to unnecessary complications arising from excessive alcohol intake hence lowering the life span.

Statistics show that currently about 25 percent of Russian men die before the age of 55 years compared to only 7 percent of United Kingdom men the difference mainly arising from alcohol and cigarettes intake. Globally the male life expectancy lies at 68 years which lags five years behind that of females. In fact there is no country worldwide where the female life expectancy exceed the male. Given the sheer scale of men violence against both women and other men, it is difficult to be sympathetic of men’s needs by worldwide organizations hence the focus is often shifted to women. In reference to Van der Vleuten et al (2016), paying attention to maternal health also makes sense as a strategy ton increase survival of children. However men’s health is equally important and should not be neglected.

Several public documents contain matters concerning gender. The council of Europe has compiled a Gender Equality Glossary based on the definitions and terms of council of Europe instruments and standards relating to gender equality. The European gender equality provides interpretation of gender equality based on 6 key policy domains which include work, money, knowledge, time, power and health and two satellite domains- violence and intersecting inequalities. This has been effective in equal distribution of resources among both genders. In the past we have seen that women in some countries did not have any say when it came to politics and power. In his own words Burnet, (2018), this notion is getting trodden behind as seen in the modern world where we have seen female presidents and heads of states like Dilma Vana Rousseff of Brazil. In an effort to bring about gender equality several nations including Nepal, Serbia and Rwanda now have minimum required percentages mandated and set aside for women in their national parliament or assembly.

Men's Health and its Neglect in Gender Equality


Another document containing information about gender is the United Nations human development report that contains the inequality index which is based on the premise that often women and girls are discriminated against in health, education and the labor market with negative repercussions for their freedom. This has increased focus on women by nations targeting their expenditure towards women. In an effort to achieve sustainable development goal 5 on gender equality, the Australian Government has developed an approach outlined in the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy launched in 2016 which establishes three interconnected priorities that guide their specific investment on gender equality. These strategies include enhancing women’s voice in decision making, leadership and peace building, promoting women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women and girls.

A huge percentage of the expenditure was directed towards the strategy. In 2015-16, Australia spent 2.02 billion dollars on investments that targeted gender equality as a significant objective. A lot of budget in not only Australia but other nations is targeting women so as to educate and empower them since the level of economic empowerment is lower in women compared to women in most countries.  The United Nations in conjunction with many countries are focusing on economic empowerment more and more. This is being implemented by creating more job opportunities for women. The argument behind this notion is that when more women work, the economy grows. Survey suggests that an increase in female labor force or a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labor force participation results in faster economic growth (Pettersson, et al (2017). Evidence from a range of countries has shown that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, either through own earnings or cash transfers changes spending in a way that benefit children.

According to Stoet et al (2018), an increase in women and girl’s education has also proven to contribute to higher economic growth. This has also significantly led to a decrease in child mortality rate. A study using data from 219 countries from 1970 to 2009 found that for every one additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreased by 9.5 per cent. Fleming et al (2015) explains that the view of women as economic dependents is also fading since more women are engaging in the corporate world of work. Although statistics still show that there are more men working or employed as compared to women, it is correct to say that the gap is getting closed slowly as gender equality is taking shape worldwide (Flood et al (2017). In 2013, the male employment to population ratio stood at 72.2 percent, while the ratio for females was 47.1 per cent. This has constantly improved over the years due to the various initiatives that have been taken to bring about gender equality.

Public Documents on Gender


Globally, most women are still paid less than men. Women in most countries earn on average only 60 to 75 per cent of men’s wages. Contributing factors include the fact that women are more likely to engage in low productivity activities and to work in the informal sector with less mobility to the formal sector than men (Broman, (2017). In an effort to balance gender issues, some work places have begun to balance the ratio to avoid bias trends. In a situation whereby both a man and a woman are qualified for a particular job, the employer can consider numbers of male and female staff and employ either in an effort to balance the gender. Even though gender inequality issues are still large in some parts of the world a huge effort is being put into place to eliminate such trends. Senior positions no longer belong to men alone at work places since women have an equal chance of delivering (Roberts, A. (2015). The notion of having a weaker sex has been passed by time and sexism is being eradicated by civilization.

Worldwide competitions are also engaging both genders to participate in such competitions with an equal chance. For example, games that had in the past been considered masculine such as football, wrestling and boxing have been creating different categories for both men and women. This has ensured that there has been equality within all fields that men participate in. According to Kabeer, (2016), the issue of transgender has been on the lime light and is facing a lot of criticism since people are opting to change their gender for the other with the notion that one gender has more priorities than the other. However it is true that everyone has freedom to make their own decisions. It is also true that someone does not decide to be born male or female hence it is beyond human reach.

In conclusion, both men and women have a right to have equal opportunities no matter the circumstances in place. The society and the world as a whole has still a huge task in ensuring that gender equality is achieved. The efforts by various organizations to achieve this equality is quite commendable. Even though the focus has been shifted towards women to achieve this equality in various countries, we should not as well forget men especially in matters of health so as to ensure the world becomes better for all.

Australia's Investment on Gender Equality

References

Aagaard, K. (2016). New and persistent gender equality challenges in academia. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 20(1), 87-90.

Broman, I. T. (2017). Early childhood education, gender relations and equality among parents and families in Sweden. In Nordic Dialogues on Children and Families (pp. 75-90). Routledge.

Burnet, J. E., & Kanakuze, J. D. A. (2018). Political Settlements, Women's Representation and Gender Equality: The 2008 Gender-Based Violence Law and Gender Parity in Primary and Secondary Education in Rwanda.

Cornwall, A., & Rivas, A. M. (2015). From ‘gender equality and ‘women’s empowerment’to global justice: reclaiming a transformative agenda for gender and development. Third World Quarterly, 36(2), 396-415.

Equality, G., Hearne, B. N., & McCammon, H. J. (2018). Black Women Cause Lawyers. 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women's Political Activism, 257.

Fleming, P. J., McCleary-Sills, J., Morton, M., Levtov, R., Heilman, B., & Barker, G. (2015). Risk factors for men’s lifetime perpetration of physical violence against intimate partners: results from the international men and gender equality survey (IMAGES) in eight countries. PLoS One, 10(3), e0118639.

Flood, M., Russell, G., & O'Leary, J. (2017). Men make a difference: engaging men on gender equality.

Hübner, N., Wille, E., Cambria, J., Oschatz, K., Nagengast, B., & Trautwein, U. (2017). Maximizing gender equality by minimizing course choice options? Effects of obligatory coursework in math on gender differences in STEM. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(7), 993.

Kabeer, N. (2016). Gender equality, economic growth, and women’s agency: the “endless variety” and “monotonous similarity” of patriarchal constraints. Feminist Economics, 22(1), 295-321.

Pettersson, K., Ahl, H., Berglund, K., & Tillmar, M. (2017). Policy actors seeking to stimulate entrepreneurship sometimes give special attention to women. It is not given, however, that policy initiatives for women entrepreneurs necessarily contribute to gender equality, to social change for women–such as enhancing entrepreneurship as a means to women’s well-being and financial or other independence–or to gendered change of society. We claim that the outcomes... Scandinavian Journal of Management, 33(1), 50-63.

Roberts, A. (2015). The Political Economy of “Transnational Business Feminism” PROBLEMATIZING THE CORPORATE-LED GENDER EQUALITY AGENDA. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17(2), 209-231.

Stoet, G., & Geary, D. C. (2018). The gender-equality paradox in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Psychological science, 0956797617741719.

Van der Vleuten, A. (2016). The price of gender equality: Member states and governance in the European Union. Routledge.

Vinogradova, O. (2016). Plans and initiatives in selected research institutions aiming to stimulate gender equality and enact structural change.

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