Gender Equality: Let’s Make It Happen

“Gender equality is a shared vision of
social justice and human rights”
– Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director.
The 8th of March is the International Women’s day;it
is a day when women are recognized and celebrated for their achievements
without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural,
economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and
accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped
potentials and opportunities that await future generations of women, also to
address the numerous challenges that the female gender is faced with.This is a
day which some people celebrate by wearing purple ribbons.
Regrettably, one of the challenges that the feminine gender
is faced with is gender inequality, the unavailability of access to equal opportunities
that men enjoy.Many disparities persist between women’s legal rights and their
economic status.
In a typical African home, the male child is automatically made
the heir apparent and the sole administrator of the family’s estate, so he is
ultimately provided with the best education to the detriment of the girls under
the same roof because most parents believe that they would eventually get
married off to a suitor.
According to reliable statistics, women make up half of
Africa’s agricultural workforce, more than half in several countries and these
women, depending on where they’re from, produce up to two-thirds less per unit
of land than men but it is not because they’re less able than men. It is not
because they’re less resourceful and it’s certainly not because they’re less
motivated. It’s because they don’t benefit equally from things like fertilizer,
training or labour. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has said that if
women worldwide had the same access to productive resources as men, they could
boost agricultural production and help lift 100 to 150 million people out of
Women today constitute nearly 70 percent of the world’s
poor, despite international efforts to compensate women and men equally in the
workplace. While women made up about 32 percent of the world’s labour force in
1990, the percentage of women in positions to make important decisions was far
lower. In 2002 women held only 15.7 percent of corporate executive positions in
the 500 largest companies in the United States—an increase of 7 percentage
points since 1995. In the mid-1990s women comprised only 1 percent of
executives in the 1,000 largest corporations outside the United States.
The level of poverty in female-headed households is disturbingly
high when compared to male-headed households. There seems to be little dispute
over the fact that FHHs are usually disadvantaged in terms of access to land,
livestock, other assets, credit, education, health care and extension services.
For instance, in Zimbabwe, female-headed households have 30-50% smaller
landholdings than male-headed households. There are similar findings on Malawi
and Namibia.
According to the Encarta Encyclopaedia, Women remain at a
distinct disadvantage in education as well. While primary school enrolment for
girls now roughly equals that of boys, women constitute about two-thirds of the
world’s one billion illiterate adults. Of the more than 100 million children
who drop out of school before completing the fourth grade, two-thirds are
girls. On the other hand, women are entering colleges and universities in
increasing numbers. In Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, more
women than men enrolled in institutions of higher education during the 1990s.
But the real questions are “do they have the same parallel opportunities in
career advancement as men?” Do they get to finish school and reach the peak of
their potentials?
Violence against Women
Obviously, women are discriminated against and intimidated,
reports of violence against them are unprecedentedly high and most of these
violators are husbands, lovers, trusted friends, family relatives among others.
In my article, “Domestic Violence in Nigeria; Lessons from
Unforgivable”, I extensively addressed the inhumane treatment most housewives
and mothers endure in a life-threaten bid to make sure that their marriages and
relationships are intact. In Africa particularly, some cultural beliefs and norms
are detrimental to the societal wellbeing of the female gender, some traditions
absolutely encourage violence against women. The tiv believes that hitting a
woman is totally acceptable because it is viewed as a “sign of love” among
other unacceptable ramifications.
Most importantly, the 2012 international women’s day in
Egypt is worthy of note because it is a sad reminder and an absurd reflection
of what women are been reduced to – ridicule. Apparently, in Egypt’s Tahrir
Square, hundreds of men came out not in support for women but to harass the
women who came out to stand up for their rights as the police and military
stood by watching the events unfold in front of them. The women – some in
headscarves and flowing robes, others in jeans – had marched to Cairo’s central
Tahrir Square to celebrate International Women’s Day. But crowds of men
outnumbered them and chased them out.
Conclusively, the UN theme for International Women’s Day
2015 is “Empowering Women, Empowering
Humanity: Picture it
!” Governments and activists around the world will
commemorate the 20th anniversary year of the Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action, an historic roadmap that sets the agenda for realizing women’s
rights. I would like to state unequivocally that the UN has been more than
helpful in the war against gender disparity. However, more needs to be done to
ensure that it is absolutely exterminated. The clarion call is on the heads of
governments and those in vantage positions to make sure that laws and
legislations that support women rights and gender parity are made, strengthened
and promoted. We need to stop seeing our women as the inferior gender.
The International Woman’s Day theme for 2015 is ‘Make It
Happen’ with a dedicated hash tag for social media. Hello everyone, a world
where you will not be restricted from voting for your preferred candidate or
prevented from vying for any elective position because of your gender is very
Olusanya Oluwole Sheriff

Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.