The blog takes a critical look at the foundations of gender inequality and explains how it impacts societies and economic growth.

"Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture, or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development, and peace." Kofi Annan

Nothing explains more clearly the sensitivity and empathetic value of this malady which has plagued civilization, both past and present, than the phraseology used by Kofi Annan. From a legal perspective, inequality is the existence, continuation, and subsistence of unequal opportunities, rewards and positions within a group or society. Unfortunately, women around the world have known, understood and suffered from this term – inequality -more than any word in their lives.

Gender equality envisions fairness of treatment and equality related to all the matters between human beings, irrespective of their gender in every walk of life. The concept entails that each human being should enjoy equal opportunities, with access to equal resources, equal decision-making power and equal economic participation regardless of their gender.

One aspect of gender equality is the concept of equality between males and females. This basically means freedom from discrimination. In this context, the definition of ‘discrimination’ as enshrined in Article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979, is important. Article 1 defines discrimination as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” The UN General Assembly adopted this women specific treaty because women are discriminated in all sphere of their lives, whether nationally or internationally. Many countries have ratified CEDAW. They are therefore bound to implement its provision in their specific country.

Despite of all the substantial developments and progressions made in relation to the gender issue, gender gap still persists and flourishes in developing as well as third world countries. Gender inequality is not only unjust but also creates havoc in the economic and business milieu of a country. If the gender gaps in employment are drastically gone, the country can have a much larger GDP. Correspondingly, a population that is well-educated leads to a higher economic growth and performance for the country.

Gender equality is a goal which women all around the world, as well as enlightened men, are striving for. For centuries, women have been denied proper respect, status, justice and power in the society. Women have been victims of persistent abuse, and have suffered in the name of orthodox views, law, or culture. They have faced sexual objectification, being considered as properties of the dominant class which is usually men. They are underrepresented and their economic contribution is undervalued, hence they are often regarded as a burden on their parents, husbands, and family. The only way to change this is through empowering them and creating opportunities so that they become productive members of society.

Hajra Rashid

Hajra Rashid holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB. Hons.) Degree from University of London.

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