Despite the existence of global advancements in policies for promoting equality among women and men, gender equality remains one of the great puzzles in our society today. Various actions have been taken to promote the status of women, such as discarding the belief that women are of lower status than men, extinguishing practices that treat women differently, and introducing programs to help women overcome the existing historical injustices; however, gender inequality still lives on. In several parts of the world, marital relationships are characterized by male dominance, dependence and obedience of the wife, and the need for a wife to submit or surrender to her husband at the cost of her self-esteem, health, or even her own advancement. The paper will discuss the various implications of gender inequality on the day-to-day life of women. While some regions have witnessed changes, the situation remains grim in others.
It is important to understand that gender equality is a right of both men and women. Equality promotes economic growth. Although women make up more than half of the world’s population, barriers to their participation in economic activity and growth hinder common prosperity. The resulting economic shortfall varies from country to country. At the same time, women’s limited access to positions of responsibility has a negative impact on economic growth. On a company-wide scale, those with women on their boards have, on average, better financial performance. Greater representation of women on boards of directors would bring greater stability and resistance to market reversals. Various studies on the macroeconomic impact of inequalities between women and men emphasize that a more active role of women in household budget management benefits the well-being of children. Women tend to devote a larger share of household resources to meeting the basic needs of the household (health, education and nutrition) and to developing children’s potential. In addition, women favor savings and investment in durable goods (housing, in particular) and means of production.
Although women are becoming increasingly involved in paid work processes, inequalities have become detrimental in the workplace (Mumtaz and Samiya, 142). On the one hand, there are gender-sensitive labor markets that tend to result in worse working conditions, lower incomes, lower social prestige and higher poverty and sometimes job risks for women. On the other hand, women are encountering significant obstacles to advancement to the higher floors of professional hierarchies.
Implications of Gender Inequality
First, gender inequality promotes forced and early marriages. Over the past years, millions of girls worldwide are forcibly married before the age of 18. The forced and early marriages have been caused by the existing practices that promote gender inequality. Moreover, forced and early marriages keep girls in inferior status to men and do not allow them to go to school and get out of poverty. It is an unfair situation and a huge potential loss for the development of communities and countries. Forced and early marriages deny girls better opportunities in life that they can get when they continue with their education. In most cases, girls at 18 years are still of school-going age and this means that when they are forced into marriage, they have to let go of their future prospects.
Secondly, gender inequality leads to trafficking, exploitation, and child labor. In most developing countries, there are high levels of poverty and due to the status of women that have been promoted by gender inequality; most families send their children, mostly girls, to work in other countries for sustainment purposes. Moreover, girls have always been considered a burden in most of societies. When these girls are sent to other countries or places, the chances of them being exploited are high. Some parents are forced to sell their daughters as a domestic slave to a wealthy family in order to survive and this is common in most Arab countries where there is a big gap between the poor and the rich. Due to the status of girls in such societies, they are exploited. In the world today, millions of girls under the age of 18 undergo exploitation. Additionally, a large number are domestic slaves. Domestic slavery of women is common in the Middle East. Most African countries send girls to seek employment in the Middle East; however, most of them end up being exploited. In worse cases, they are reduced to the status of domestic slaves.
Thirdly, gender inequality also promotes violence and the abuse of women.Traditions, early marriages, the school environment and domestic work expose girls to the risk of abuse, physical and mental abuse, assault and sexual exploitation(Krishnan et al. 67).Millions of girls and women have been victims of sexual violence in school and on the way to school. The high number of such cases has been attributed to gender inequality whereby the society considers girls and women to be of a lower status than boys and men and this means that when they face any form of abuse or violence, there is little concern compared to when the same happens to boys and men.
Gender Inequality Hinders the Access of Education of Girls and Women
Next, gender inequality hinders the access of education of girls and women. All discrimination against girls is a barrier to their education. The data collected by UNESCO reveals that millions of girls between 6 and 14 years old do not go to school. In addition, girls are vulnerable to violence within the school and on the way to school, which discourages them or their parents from going to school. In the early post-war decades, education proved to be the social sector where gender inequalities were eased the fastest and best. Girls have always achieved the better grades and less often sit. But it was the discussion about the inequality of educational opportunities in the 1960s that encouraged them to translate better school performance into appropriate educational attainment. Gender proportions at secondary educational institutions highlight only one aspect of gender equality(Jacobsen 97). Women’s research rightly emphasizes that traditional gender differences persist in deciding on specific subjects and especially on vocational training. Women still tend to focus on “female” programs such as education, social sciences, linguistics and cultural studies. In vocational education and training, equality of girls and women faces greater problems than in the field of education and higher education. Women are strongly overrepresented in vocational training at full-time schools, for example for kindergarten teachers, nurses and physiotherapists. Although these training courses are comparatively long and expensive (no continuous training allowance, sometimes high school fees), they cannot translate into corresponding salaries in the labor market. One year after graduation, women earn an average of 14 percent less than men. Another disadvantage is the fact that young women in a few training occupations are crowding together in the same courses thereby limiting their opportunities in the work sector.
Additionally, gender inequality promotes early pregnancy among women. Sexual abuse and violence against girls as well as forced and early marriages have the direct consequence of early pregnancy: 2 million of them are pregnant each year before their 15th birthday. Early pregnancy has devastating consequences not only for the mother, but also for the child. Every day, 194 girls die because of early pregnancy, the leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds, and the leading cause of infant mortality.
Gender inequality affects the prospects of women at workplace through maternity laws. The persistent gap in the workplace is due to two factors. The first is that the professional sectors in which women are concentrated (health, social services, education, etc.) generally offer poorer working conditions, even with equivalent qualifications and responsibilities(Moore).Second, when men and women work in the same sectors, their working conditions are similar until the time comes to have children. Since women are usually the ones who must, if not put in brackets, at least slow down their careers to care for their small family, and this period often coincides with the first opportunities to climb the professional ladder, they are find themselves confined to low-level jobs.
Gender Inequality Promotes Health Risks in Women
Gender inequality promotes health risks in women. The physical and mental exhaustion of child labor, the recurrent pains due to difficult household tasks and too heavy for all young girls, the risks of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV) due to sexual violence or physical abuse and female genital mutilation (such as female circumcision) are all factors that endanger the health of girls, even to the point of death. In addition, an uneducated girl will have more difficulty accessing and following prevention and care recommendations and advice for herself and her children.
Marginalization is another product of gender inequality. Various discriminations and inequalities marginalize girls. They have no right to express themselves and cannot access their right to participate in the social and economic life of their community and their country. Early and forced marriage marginalizes girls, as well as early pregnancies out of wedlock, which often causes girls to reject their parents.
Gender inequality also promotes the perpetuation of women’s lower status and poverty. Early and forced marriages, early pregnancies and school dropouts keep girls in inferior status to men and do not allow them to move out of poverty. This is an unfair situation and a huge potential lost for the development of communities and countries. A girl who does not go to school will have a harder time making her voice heard. She will not be able to participate actively in decision-making of the society in which she lives. This situation may be perpetuated in the next generation because an uneducated girl will not understand the value of giving her children a quality education. However, each year spent by a girl on school benches increases her future income by 10 to 20% (Moore). In fact, if girls increase their school attendance by 10% each year, a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) increases by an average of 3%.
At the political level, women are under-represented in parliaments, cabinet ministers, governments, and so on. The sharing of economic power is also very unequal. Women have little access to managerial positions in companies and progress is particularly weak in this area. Whether in private enterprises or in the public service, only 10 to 13% of women actually gain economic power. This is the result of inequalities that occur early in the career. The career path is different between a man and a woman. Despite this, there are thousands of women in various countries with the capability to take responsibility of leadership positions.
Regarding the question of domestic responsibility, gender inequality has led to women being subjected to lower status in the family structure. Although women are becoming more and more employed, men are reluctant to relieve some of their domestic responsibilities. They are most likely to be warmed up to play the role of father and participate in the care of the children. However, the hard core of traditional chores – washing, cleaning and cooking – continues to be done by women in most families.The rigidity of the traditional division of labor in the family has been and continues to be the main obstacle to women’s equality in the world of work and politics(Agarwal202). This can be substantiated, inter alia by various examples. First, many mothers mitigate the collision of family and professional responsibilities through temporary retirement or part-time work. The choice of one of these variants is tantamount to at least temporary renunciation of career advancement, in many cases it also means career decline. Secondly, top occupations are usually “one and a half person occupations”. They are tailored to a helping partner who keeps his back free for the working person, so that he can devote his time and energies as completely as possible to the profession. The role of the helper falls to the traditional understanding of the role of women and means for them cuts in their own professional ambitions. Thirdly, other important prerequisites for top careers are entry into the right age and constant “staying on the ball”. Women often cannot fulfill this condition because important foundations for career advancement are placed at a stage of their lives when children are particularly busy. Next, Women are more willing to solve conflicts between work and family in favor of the children and the partner and to cut back on their career aspirations. Even young and well-educated couples, in whose minds an equal, “egalitarian” understanding of roles has developed, fall as parents into a “time and availability dilemma” and solve the dilemma usually with recourse to the traditional role behavior.
Gender Inequality Also Promotes Social Behavior Discrimination
Gender inequality also promotes social behavior discrimination. Most studies confirm that gender discrimination is common in developing countries whereby women are categorized to be second-class citizens with the rights of men being superior to theirs. Social behavior discrimination is also common in the Middle East. There are social roles that women are not allowed to undertake(Abu-Lughod 782). For instance, most Islamic countries in the Middle East do not allow women to drive cars. The belief has adversely affected the employment prospects of women as driving can be a source of employment. It means that while women in such countries have the ability to be employed through driving jobs, the societies hinder this. Additionally, women are also not allowed to express themselves freely in public, as this is considered indecent in some developing countries due to their status in the society.
Additionally, gender inequality leads to lost productivity at the workplace. In any situation that a woman is not treated equally with the others in an organization, she may feel discriminated upon and in turn becomes demotivated and looses morale (Ghannam). When an individual is demotivated, he/she is likely not to perform to his/her best. Therefore, a woman in a workplace who faces gender inequality may feel that she is not treated accordingly hence may not performher duties to perfection. In these cases often, there is lost productivity since the individual fails to perform to his/her standards in situations where he/she would perform better. In countries where there are high cases of gender inequality, productivity is lost, moreover, if women are the major drivers of the economy.
Gender inequality leads to an increase in gender pay gap between men and women. Considering the studies that have been carried out in the USA in the past, it is evident that gender pay gap still exists as men’s pay is slightly above that of women without reasons to explain the disparity (Jacobsen, Fernando, & Jakobsen 98). Even when all the conditions considered in job selection and payment are equal, men are found to earn higher than women. However, it is notable that there were slight changes in men’s and women’s differentials in pay. Several countries have recorded reductions in the pay gap between men and women over the past years. Women have continued pushing for equality in pay over several countries in the world as they consider that they are equal to men and should not be awarded lesser pay. There is a need to address this problem because it continues to affect the working sector in the world today. There have been several cases of mistreatment in workstations such as factories. Since women feel that they are not accorded fair treatment with men, they should not work much. The gender pay gap has, therefore, led to reduced productivity in most workplaces since women claim that they have no entitlement to producing better results in the workplaces where they are not accorded fair pay with their counterparts, men, who they perform the same type of duties. Research done several years ago on the gender pay gap in the world between the 1960s and 1990s revealed that there were reductions in the gender wage gap, with an approximation of 30% (Mumtaz & Samiya 139). The research also showed that the gender pay gap is common more in the jobs that are dominated by men. The men in such positions believe that women cannot deliver to their standards, and that is why they access higher pay than women. Due to the discrimination that women experience in most workplaces, they feel that the fight to ensure gender equality will take some time since the recent years have been marred with slight changes in statistics about gender pay (Jacobsen, Fernando, & Jakobsen 98). Almost all the countries in the world are victims of gender pay gap. The women in these countries have the same qualifications as their counterparts, men, yet they are subjected to lower wages. It is, therefore, evident that women are the primary victims of gender pay gap with men being the beneficiaries.
In conclusion, gender inequality has remained in existence in the world despite the existence of global advancements in policies for promoting equality among women and men. Some of the implications of gender equality on women include promoted forced and early marriages, trafficking, exploitation, and child labor, promotes violence and the abuse of women, hinders the access of education of girls and women, the prospects of women at workplace through maternity laws, in gender pay gap between men and women, and leads to lost productivity at the workplace. Various actions have been taken to promote the status of women such as extinguishing practices that treat women differently, discarding the belief that women are of lower status than men, and introducing programs to help women overcome the existing historical injustices, however, gender inequality persists.
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