This is an open letter in regards to the United Nation’s Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
“How can be we end all forms of discrimination against women?” should never have been a question asked in the first place. Sadly, it has been asked and has yet to be answered. Written in history in multiple accounts, women have been misrepresented in democracy and denied many rights such as the right to vote.
During the Suffragette movement, many women fought for their right to vote despite the stigma they endured daily from their husbands, male coworkers, and politicians. Women’s suffrage in the United States passed the 19th Amendment which finally allowed women to receive the right to vote. The suffragettes successfully made their opinions heard and recognized. This was one step toward gender equality. These strong women never surrendered and never gave up their fight.
Despite this large success that was global for many women in many countries, gender inequality is still prevalent. So, how can we have gender equality? Passing more equality laws that ensure both genders to be equal and represented in law. Men should not make decisions for women. Women should not make decisions for men.
Gender equality requires a collaborative effort from both women and men. It is meeting in the middle. It is finding the middle ground where we accept and recognize the common goal to reach gender equality in contemporary society.
A realization is needed. Women are half of the human race. They are in every home. What gave men the right to uphold the law and be oppressive over women? The root of this problem has been identified. Gender stereotypes. What are gender stereotypes?
The origins of societal gender roles have been deeply woven in the beginnings of humankind where women and men were expected to follow unspoken gender norms.
Women are expected to embody “feminine” characteristics and duties. Women are demanded to be motherly figures that are submissive, passive, and dependent.
Men were expected to be “masculine.” Society demands men to be masculine, aggressive, and dominant. In other words, the characteristics of women and men are polar opposites and men are automatically given power over women. This is a senseless assumption. Society cannot and will not function with this black and white perspective.
How can we have gender equality despite these prevalent stereotypes? Simple. Have no stereotypes. This is done by having a society that is filled with many personalities and characteristics that do not fall under one of two categories.
Acceptance of cross-gender behaviors through education is needed to break gender inequality barriers.
Gender-based barriers that was once accumulated over generations will begin to cease as everyone is educated and fight discrimination every day, not matter how small is the battle.
Whether it is a movement for equality laws to be passed or a small act of standing up for a woman or man that is being discriminated against, everyone needs to partake in this fight. Although the journey is difficult, the needed contribution from everyone will ensure gender equality will lead to great gender equality in the long run.