“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.” Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
According to the latest data from the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report, around 2.4 billion women of working age are not afforded equal economic opportunity. Moreover, 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation.
Gender equality is a topic that affects everyone, but it is an issue often overlooked or not given the attention it deserves. While progress has been made in some areas, there is still a long way to go in achieving true equality between men and women. In this blog post, we will explore 10 strategies for advancing gender equality and discuss how each one can make a significant impact.
Advancing Gender Equality: The United Nations' SDG 5
Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030."
This goal has several targets, including:
- Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls
- Eliminating violence against women and girls
- Eliminating harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting
- Recognizing and valuing the unpaid care and domestic work of women and girls
- Ensuring women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life
- Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights
- Enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communication technology, to promote the empowerment of women
The goal of achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is integral to the overall mission of the SDGs, which is to create a more sustainable and equitable world for all people. By working towards the targets of Goal 5, we can create a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their gender.
Strategies for Advancing Gender Equality
1. Redefining Masculinity and Femininity: Breaking Free from Traditional Gender Roles and Expectations
Traditional gender roles and expectations can limit both men and women, preventing them from fully expressing themselves and reaching their full potential. For example, men may be expected to be strong, emotionless, and aggressive. On the other hand, women may be expected to be nurturing, emotional, and submissive. These expectations can be harmful and limiting, as they prevent men from expressing their emotions and women from pursuing leadership roles or other goals that are not seen as "feminine."
To break free from these constraints, it is important to challenge traditional gender roles and expectations and recognize that both men and women are capable of a wide range of emotions, behaviors, and activities.
It is important to note that redefining masculinity and femininity is not about eliminating differences between men and women but rather about recognizing that individuals of all genders are complex and multifaceted and should be allowed to express themselves in a variety of ways. By promoting a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of gender, we can create a more equitable and accepting society.
2. Sharing Household Chores and Childcare Equally
About 91 % of women with children spend at least an hour per day on housework, compared to 30 % of men with children. Data from the EIGE-2021 Gender Equality Index 2021 Report also indicates that employed women spend about 2.3 hours daily on housework. However, employed men only spend 1.6 hours. Overall, studies have consistently shown that women bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, including household chores and childcare, while men often do less in these areas.
This gender gap in housework participation can have negative consequences for both men and women. For women, it can limit their opportunities and prevent them from fully participating in the workforce, contributing to overall gender inequality. For men, it can limit their opportunities to develop nurturing and caregiving skills and may reinforce traditional gender roles and expectations.
To address this problem, it is important to promote the sharing of household chores and childcare tasks equally between men and women. This could involve creating a plan for dividing up these responsibilities and seeking outside support to ease the burden.
3. Encourage Flexible Work Arrangements
According to a 2019 FlexJobs survey, roughly 31% of women who took a career break after having children reported that they did so because of a lack of workplace flexibility rather than because they wanted to. Women are often caregivers and must balance the demands of both work and caregiving.
Without the option for flexibility in their work schedules, women may be forced to take extended leaves of absence or to reduce their work hours. This can have negative consequences for their career advancement and economic stability.
By offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or part-time work, businesses and companies can support women who are juggling the demands of both work and caregiving and help to promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies implemented work-from-home arrangements. Looking forward, it is likely that flexible working arrangements will continue to be a key aspect of the way we work. Many businesses have already announced plans to continue offering remote work options to employees. By embracing flexible working arrangements and addressing the challenges they can present, we can promote more inclusiveness and equitable work environments for all.
4. Advocate for Paid Family Leave
Paid family leave, which provides employees with paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member, is an important policy for promoting gender balance and equal rights.
Research has shown that paid family leave can have a number of benefits, including:
- Improved health outcomes for new mothers and infants
- Increased bonding between parents and children
- Improved mental health and well-being for caregivers
- Increased gender equality, as paid family leave allows both men and women to take time off work to care for a new child or a sick family member
Despite the benefits of paid family leave, access to this policy is still limited in many countries, particularly in key roles and industries. In the United States, for example, only a small fraction of workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.
To address these gender issues and make paid family leave more widely available, it is important to advocate for policies that support this benefit, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act in the United States. It is also important to recognize that paid family leave is not just a "women's issue" but rather a policy that benefits both men and women and helps promote gender balance and equal rights.
5. Promote Equal Pay
Globally, women are paid about 20% less than men on average. Furthermore, according to UN Women, women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men worldwide. Check out our blog post on the impact of gender inequality on decent work and economic growth.
There are a number of reasons why it is important to promote equal pay and address the gender pay gap. Some of the key benefits of equal pay include:
- Improved economic opportunities for women: By closing the pay gap, women can have more financial independence and be better able to pursue their own goals and aspirations.
- Stronger families and communities: Equal pay can help to create more balanced and equitable relationships between men and women, which can, in turn, lead to stronger families and communities.
The Equal Pay Act is a key policy that promotes equal pay. This act, which was passed in the United States in 1963, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the payment of wages or benefits. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees and requires that men and women who perform substantially equal work be paid the same wage.
In addition to the Equal Pay Act, there are a number of other measures that can be taken to promote equal pay, including negotiating for higher pay, advocating for pay transparency, and supporting policies that promote equal pay.
6. The Role of Foreign Policy in Advancing Gender Equality
Feminist foreign policies are foreign policies that prioritize gender equality and the promotion of women's rights. They often seek to address the ways in which traditional foreign policy approaches have excluded or marginalized women and to incorporate a gender perspective into all aspects of foreign policy decision-making.
Feminist foreign policies can have a positive impact on human rights and women's rights in a number of ways. For example, by prioritizing gender equality and women's empowerment, feminist foreign policies can help to address and prevent gender-based violence and discrimination. They can also support the development of laws and policies that promote gender equality and women's rights and increase the participation of women in political, economic, and social spheres.
In addition, feminist foreign policies can help to raise awareness and understanding of the ways in which gender inequality and the subordination of women are linked to other issues, such as conflict, poverty, and economic development. By addressing these interconnected issues, feminist foreign policies can help to create more just and equitable societies.
7. Identifying and Responding to the Signs of Domestic Violence
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Domestic violence is a major barrier to gender equality and women's equality. This type of violence, which refers to physical, sexual assault, or emotional abuse by a current or former partner, affects women in all countries. But it is particularly prevalent in low-income countries. Despite the efforts of organizations and individuals working to combat violence against women, it remains a persistent issue that needs to be addressed.
Intimate partner violence can have a number of negative consequences for women, including physical and mental health problems, economic insecurity, and HIV. In many countries, the highest levels of intimate partner violence are experienced by women in their reproductive years, highlighting the intersection of gender-based violence and women's reproductive health.
To address the problem of intimate partner violence and promote gender equality, it is important for national governments to adopt approaches that aim to prevent this type of violence and provide support to survivors. In addition, it is important to support policies and programs that aim to prevent this type of violence. This can include initiatives such as hotlines, shelters, and legal assistance.
8. Promote Inclusive Leadership
Gender bias can be a significant barrier to inclusive leadership and to the promotion of women leaders into leadership positions. Globally, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions.
Promoting more inclusive leadership, which values diversity and includes women and other underrepresented groups, can have a number of benefits for organizations, including:
- Improved decision making: Research has shown that diverse groups tend to make better decisions, as they are more likely to consider a wider range of perspectives and ideas.
- Enhanced creativity and innovation: Diversity can stimulate new ideas and approaches, leading to increased creativity and innovation.
- Greater representation: Inclusive leadership can help to ensure that the experiences and needs of all members of the organization are considered and valued.
There are a number of strategies that organizations can use to promote more inclusive leadership, such as:
- Removing gender bias in interviews: This can help to remove gender considerations when selecting candidates for leadership positions. Train interviewers on unconscious bias to promote more objective and fair decision-making, use structured interviews, and use diverse interview panels.
- Providing leadership development opportunities: Organizations can invest in leadership development programs that focus on diversity and inclusion and that provide opportunities for women to gain the skills and experience needed to become leaders.
- Developing brief interventions: Simple interventions, such as providing women with information about their own performance or encouraging them to apply for leadership roles, can help to promote more inclusive leadership.
9. Encourage Men to Be Allies
Men can play a vital role in the fight for gender equality by acting as allies and supporting and advocating for women. There are a number of ways that men can be allies in this effort, including:
- Educating themselves: Men can educate themselves about gender issues and the experiences of women by reading books and articles, attending workshops and seminars, and engaging in discussions with women and other men.
- Speaking up: Men can speak up and challenge gender stereotypes and biases when they see them, whether in the workplace or their personal lives. This can involve calling out inappropriate comments or behaviors and supporting women who speak out about these issues.
- Supporting women's leadership: Men can support women's leadership by actively seeking out and promoting women for leadership positions and by providing mentorship and guidance to women.
- Donating time and resources: Men can also donate their time and resources to organizations and initiatives that support gender equality, such as women's shelters, mentorship programs, and advocacy groups.
- Being a role model: Men can also be role models for other men and boys by modeling respectful and inclusive behavior and by challenging traditional gender roles and expectations.
10. Address Discrimination and Harassment
Discrimination and harassment can significantly impact both individuals and organizations, creating an unwelcoming and disrespectful environment. It is essential for organizations to take steps to address discrimination and harassment and to create a more welcoming and respectful workplace.
Some strategies for addressing discrimination and harassment include:
- Implementing policies and procedures: Developing and implementing policies that clearly outline what is and is not acceptable behavior can help to create a more respectful workplace. These policies should be communicated to all employees and should be consistently enforced.
- Providing training: Provide training on diversity and inclusion, as well as on how to recognize and report discrimination and harassment.
- Encouraging reporting: Encouraging employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment can help to create a more open and inclusive workplace. It is important for organizations to have a clear process in place for handling such reports and to take all reports seriously.
- Promoting a culture of respect: Organizations can also promote a culture of respect by modeling inclusive and respectful behavior and by recognizing and rewarding employees who exhibit such behavior.
There are many strategies that we can use to advance gender equality and empower women and girls. From advocating for paid family leave to addressing discrimination, there are many ways that we can work towards a more equitable and inclusive society for all. While there may be challenges and setbacks along the way, by taking action and working together, we can make progress toward achieving gender equality for all.
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