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Plan, Prepare & Make the Best Career Choices

Gender Equality Essay

Everyone should live as they want in society, and there should be no discrimination. Equality in society is achieved when all people, regardless of their caste, gender, colour, profession, and status rank, are considered equal. Another way to describe equality is that everyone gets the same rights and opportunities to develop and progress forward. Here are a few sample essays on ‘Gender Equality’.

Gender Equality Essay

100 Words Essay On Gender Equality

Gender equality is the belief that men and women should be treated and perceived as equals in society, including all areas such as education, employment, and in decision-making positions. It is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.

Despite significant progress in advancing gender equality, women and girls continue to face barriers and discrimination in many areas of society. This includes the gender pay gap, difficult access to education and employment opportunities, and limited representation in leadership positions. Creating a more equal society benefits everyone, as it leads to greater prosperity and happiness for all. It is important for individuals, communities, and governments to work towards achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls to reach their full potential.

200 Words Essay On Gender Equality

Gender equality is the equal treatment and perception of individuals of all genders in society.

Importance Of Gender Equality

Gender equality is important because it is a fundamental human right and is necessary for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable society. When everyone, regardless of their gender, is treated fairly and has equal opportunities, it can lead to greater prosperity and happiness for all.

Additionally, gender equality can have a positive impact on economic growth and development. When women and girls are able to fully participate and get proper education and employment opportunities, it can lead to increased productivity and innovation. It can also contribute to more balanced and representative decision-making, which can lead to more effective and fair policies and practices.

Furthermore, gender equality is essential for promoting social justice and fairness. When women and girls are marginalized and discriminated against, it can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including poverty, poor health, and reduced opportunities for personal and professional development. Overall, the promotion of gender equality is important for creating a more equal, fair, and just society for all.

Encouraging Gender Equality

Efforts to promote gender equality must involve the active participation and engagement of both men and women. This includes challenging and changing harmful gender norms and stereotypes, and promoting policies and laws that protect and advance the rights of women and girls.

500 Words Essay On Gender Equality

Everyone in the country has the same fundamental freedom to pursue happiness whichever way they see fit. It's possible if people of various backgrounds (race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, gender) are treated with respect and dignity. Gender disparity is the most noticeable kind of prejudice. Gender discrimination persists even in many modern nations and calls for immediate action. When men and women are given the same opportunities, we will achieve gender equality. Furthermore, this essay will outline the many issues women encounter due to gender discrimination.

Prevalence Of Gender Inequality

Gender inequality is prevalent in many sectors and areas of society. Some examples include:

Education: Women and girls may face barriers to accessing education, such as lack of resources, cultural or societal barriers, and discrimination.

Employment: Women and girls may face discrimination in the workplace, including lower pay for the same work as men, lack of promotion opportunities, and limited representation in leadership positions.

Health care: Women and girls may face discrimination and inadequate access to quality health care, particularly in areas related to reproductive and sexual health.

Political representation: Women are often underrepresented in political leadership positions and decision-making processes.

Domestic violence: Women and girls may face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, and may lack adequate protection and support from the justice system.

Media and advertising: Women and girls are often portrayed in stereotypical and objectifying ways in the media and advertising, which can reinforce harmful gender norms and stereotypes.

Gender inequality is a widespread issue that affects many areas of society, and it is important to work towards promoting gender equality in all sectors.

How India Can Achieve Gender Equality

Achieving gender equality in India will require a multi-faceted approach that involves addressing social norms and stereotypes, strengthening laws and policies, increasing women's representation in leadership positions, promoting women's economic empowerment, and improving access to health care.

Address social norms and stereotypes: It is important to challenge and change harmful gender norms and stereotypes that contribute to gender inequality. This can be done through education campaigns and programs that promote gender equality and challenge traditional gender roles.

Strengthen laws and policies: India can work to strengthen laws and policies that protect and advance the rights of women and girls, such as laws against domestic violence and discrimination, and policies that promote equal pay for equal work and access to education and employment.

Increase women's representation in leadership positions: India can work to increase the representation of women in leadership positions, including in politics, business, and other sectors, to ensure that women have a stronger voice in decision-making processes.

Promote women's economic empowerment: Providing women with access to education, employment, and financial resources can help to empower them and enable them to fully participate in society.

Improve access to health care: Ensuring that women and girls have access to quality health care, including reproductive and sexual health care, is essential for promoting gender equality.

My Experience

I remember one time when I was working as an intern at a small consulting firm. At the end of my internship, I was offered a full-time position. However, when I received the offer letter, I noticed that my male colleagues who were also being offered full-time positions had been offered a higher salary than me, even though we had all performed the same job duties during our internships.

I was frustrated and felt that I was being treated unfairly because of my gender. I decided to bring this issue to the attention of my supervisor, and after some negotiation, I was able to secure a salary that was equal to that of my male colleagues.

This experience taught me the importance of advocating for myself and not accepting inequality, and it also made me more aware of the ways in which gender bias can manifest in the workplace. I believe that it is important for individuals to speak up and take action when they see instances of gender inequality, and for organizations to make a conscious effort to promote gender equality and fairness in all aspects of their operations.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

  • Construction
  • Entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 


How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Investment director.

An investment director is a person who helps corporations and individuals manage their finances. They can help them develop a strategy to achieve their goals, including paying off debts and investing in the future. In addition, he or she can help individuals make informed decisions.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist


Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.


Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

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Travel journalist.

The career of a travel journalist is full of passion, excitement and responsibility. Journalism as a career could be challenging at times, but if you're someone who has been genuinely enthusiastic about all this, then it is the best decision for you. Travel journalism jobs are all about insightful, artfully written, informative narratives designed to cover the travel industry. Travel Journalist is someone who explores, gathers and presents information as a news article.

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A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

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A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

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A metallurgical engineer is a professional who studies and produces materials that bring power to our world. He or she extracts metals from ores and rocks and transforms them into alloys, high-purity metals and other materials used in developing infrastructure, transportation and healthcare equipment. 

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An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

ITSM Manager

Information security manager.

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

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5 Powerful Essays Advocating for Gender Equality

Gender equality – which becomes reality when all genders are treated fairly and allowed equal opportunities –  is a complicated human rights issue for every country in the world. Recent statistics are sobering. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 108 years to achieve gender parity . The biggest gaps are found in political empowerment and economics. Also, there are currently just six countries that give women and men equal legal work rights. Generally, women are only given ¾ of the rights given to men. To learn more about how gender equality is measured, how it affects both women and men, and what can be done, here are five essays making a fair point.

Take a free course on Gender Equality offered by top universities!

“Countries With Less Gender Equity Have More Women In STEM — Huh?” – Adam Mastroianni and Dakota McCoy

This essay from two Harvard PhD candidates (Mastroianni in psychology and McCoy in biology) takes a closer look at a recent study that showed that in countries with lower gender equity, more women are in STEM. The study’s researchers suggested that this is because women are actually especially interested in STEM fields, and because they are given more choice in Western countries, they go with different careers. Mastroianni and McCoy disagree.

They argue the research actually shows that cultural attitudes and discrimination are impacting women’s interests, and that bias and discrimination is present even in countries with better gender equality. The problem may lie in the Gender Gap Index (GGI), which tracks factors like wage disparity and government representation. To learn why there’s more women in STEM from countries with less gender equality, a more nuanced and complex approach is needed.

“Men’s health is better, too, in countries with more gender equality” – Liz Plank

When it comes to discussions about gender equality, it isn’t uncommon for someone in the room to say, “What about the men?” Achieving gender equality has been difficult because of the underlying belief that giving women more rights and freedom somehow takes rights away from men. The reality, however, is that gender equality is good for everyone. In Liz Plank’s essay, which is an adaption from her book For the Love of Men: A Vision for Mindful Masculinity, she explores how in Iceland, the #1 ranked country for gender equality, men live longer. Plank lays out the research for why this is, revealing that men who hold “traditional” ideas about masculinity are more likely to die by suicide and suffer worse health. Anxiety about being the only financial provider plays a big role in this, so in countries where women are allowed education and equal earning power, men don’t shoulder the burden alone.

Liz Plank is an author and award-winning journalist with Vox, where she works as a senior producer and political correspondent. In 2015, Forbes named her one of their “30 Under 30” in the Media category. She’s focused on feminist issues throughout her career.

“China’s #MeToo Moment” –  Jiayang Fan

Some of the most visible examples of gender inequality and discrimination comes from “Me Too” stories. Women are coming forward in huge numbers relating how they’ve been harassed and abused by men who have power over them. Most of the time, established systems protect these men from accountability. In this article from Jiayang Fan, a New Yorker staff writer, we get a look at what’s happening in China.

The essay opens with a story from a PhD student inspired by the United States’ Me Too movement to open up about her experience with an academic adviser. Her story led to more accusations against the adviser, and he was eventually dismissed. This is a rare victory, because as Fan says, China employs a more rigid system of patriarchy and hierarchy. There aren’t clear definitions or laws surrounding sexual harassment. Activists are charting unfamiliar territory, which this essay explores.

“Men built this system. No wonder gender equality remains as far off as ever.” – Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Freelance journalist Ellie Mae O’Hagan (whose book The New Normal is scheduled for a May 2020 release) is discouraged that gender equality is so many years away. She argues that it’s because the global system of power at its core is broken.  Even when women are in power, which is proportionally rare on a global scale, they deal with a system built by the patriarchy. O’Hagan’s essay lays out ideas for how to fix what’s fundamentally flawed, so gender equality can become a reality.

Ideas include investing in welfare; reducing gender-based violence (which is mostly men committing violence against women); and strengthening trade unions and improving work conditions. With a system that’s not designed to put women down, the world can finally achieve gender equality.

“Invisibility of Race in Gender Pay Gap Discussions” – Bonnie Chu

The gender pay gap has been a pressing issue for many years in the United States, but most discussions miss the factor of race. In this concise essay, Senior Contributor Bonnie Chu examines the reality, writing that within the gender pay gap, there’s other gaps when it comes to black, Native American, and Latina women. Asian-American women, on the other hand, are paid 85 cents for every dollar. This data is extremely important and should be present in discussions about the gender pay gap. It reminds us that when it comes to gender equality, there’s other factors at play, like racism.

Bonnie Chu is a gender equality advocate and a Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur. She’s the founder and CEO of Lensational, which empowers women through photography, and the Managing Director of The Social Investment Consultancy.

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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

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  • 06 September 2023

Gender equality: the route to a better world

You have full access to this article via your institution.

The Mosuo People lives in China and they are the last matriarchy society. Lugu, Sichuan, China.

The Mosuo people of China include sub-communities in which inheritance passes down either the male or the female line. Credit: TPG/Getty

The fight for global gender equality is nowhere close to being won. Take education: in 87 countries, less than half of women and girls complete secondary schooling, according to 2023 data. Afghanistan’s Taliban continues to ban women and girls from secondary schools and universities . Or take reproductive health: abortion rights have been curtailed in 22 US states since the Supreme Court struck down federal protections, depriving women and girls of autonomy and restricting access to sexual and reproductive health care .

SDG 5, whose stated aim is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, is the fifth of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all of which Nature is examining in a series of editorials. SDG 5 includes targets for ending discrimination and violence against women and girls in both public and private spheres, eradicating child marriage and female genital mutilation, ensuring sexual and reproductive rights, achieving equal representation of women in leadership positions and granting equal rights to economic resources. Globally, the goal is not on track to being achieved, and just a handful of countries have hit all the targets.

response essay about gender equality

How the world should oppose the Taliban’s war on women and girls

In July, the UN introduced two new indices (see go.nature.com/3eus9ue ), the Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) and the Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI). The WEI measures women’s ability and freedoms to make their own choices; the GGPI describes the gap between women and men in areas such as health, education, inclusion and decision making. The indices reveal, depressingly, that even achieving a small gender gap does not automatically translate to high levels of women’s empowerment: 114 countries feature in both indices, but countries that do well on both scores cover fewer than 1% of all girls and women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse, with women bearing the highest burden of extra unpaid childcare when schools needed to close, and subjected to intensified domestic violence. Although child marriages declined from 21% of all marriages in 2016 to 19% in 2022, the pandemic threatened even this incremental progress, pushing up to 10 million more girls into risk of child marriage over the next decade, in addition to the 100 million girls who were at risk before the pandemic.

Of the 14 indicators for SDG 5, only one or two are close to being met by the 2030 deadline. As of 1 January 2023, women occupied 35.4% of seats in local-government assemblies, an increase from 33.9% in 2020 (the target is gender parity by 2030). In 115 countries for which data were available, around three-quarters, on average, of the necessary laws guaranteeing full and equal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights had been enacted. But the UN estimates that worldwide, only 57% of women who are married or in a union make their own decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Systemic discrimination against girls and women by men, in many contexts, remains a colossal barrier to achieving gender equality. But patriarchy is not some “natural order of things” , argues Ruth Mace, an anthropologist at University College London. Hundreds of women-centred societies exist around the world. As the science writer Angela Saini describes in her latest book, The Patriarchs , these are often not the polar opposite of male-dominated systems, but societies in which men and women share decision making .

response essay about gender equality

After Roe v. Wade: dwindling US abortion access is harming health a year later

One example comes from the Mosuo people in China, who have both ‘matrilineal’ and ‘patrilineal’ communities, with rights such as inheritance passing down either the male or female line. Researchers compared outcomes for inflammation and hypertension in men and women in these communities, and found that women in matrilineal societies, in which they have greater autonomy and control over resources, experienced better health outcomes. The researchers found no significant negative effect of matriliny on health outcomes for men ( A.  Z. Reynolds et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 117 , 30324–30327; 2020 ).

When it comes to the SDGs, evidence is emerging that a more gender-equal approach to politics and power benefits many goals. In a study published in May, Nobue Amanuma, deputy director of the Integrated Sustainability Centre at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Hayama, Japan, and two of her colleagues tested whether countries with more women legislators, and more younger legislators, are performing better in the SDGs ( N. Amanuma et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 18 , 054018; 2023 ). They found it was so, with the effect more marked for socio-economic goals such as ending poverty and hunger, than for environmental ones such as climate action or preserving life on land. The researchers recommend further qualitative and quantitative studies to better understand the reasons.

The reality that gender equality leads to better outcomes across other SDGs is not factored, however, into most of the goals themselves. Of the 230 unique indicators of the SDGs, 51 explicitly reference women, girls, gender or sex, including the 14 indicators in SDG 5. But there is not enough collaboration between organizations responsible for the different SDGs to ensure that sex and gender are taken into account. The indicator for the sanitation target (SDG 6) does not include data disaggregated by sex or gender ( Nature 620 , 7; 2023 ). Unless we have this knowledge, it will be hard to track improvements in this and other SDGs.

The road to a gender-equal world is long, and women’s power and freedom to make choices is still very constrained. But the evidence from science is getting stronger: distributing power between genders creates the kind of world we all need and want to be living in.

Nature 621 , 8 (2023)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-02745-9

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Original research

Response strategies for promoting gender equality in public health emergencies: a rapid scoping review, janina i steinert.

1 TUM Schoool of Governance, Technical University of Munich, München, Germany

2 Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Caterina Alacevich

3 Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Bridget Steele

Julie hennegan.

4 Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

5 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Alexa R Yakubovich

6 MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Associated Data


All review material including data extraction sheets and search strings will be made available via https://osf.io/8hkfd/ Reviewer registration can also be found here: DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/8HKFD No additional data available.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to widen existing gender inequities worldwide. A growing body of literature assesses the harmful consequences of public health emergencies (PHEs) for women and girls; however, evidence of what works to alleviate such impacts is limited. To inform viable mitigation strategies, we reviewed the evidence on gender-based interventions implemented in PHEs, including disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

We conducted a rapid scoping review to identify eligible studies by systematically searching the databases MEDLINE, Global Health and Web of Science with the latest search update on 28 May 2021. We used the Sustainable Development Goals as a guiding framework to identify eligible outcomes of gender (in)equality.

Out of 13 920 records, 16 studies met our eligibility criteria. These included experimental (3), cohort (2), case–control (3) and cross-sectional (9) studies conducted in the context of natural disasters (earthquakes, droughts and storms) or epidemics (Zika, Ebola and COVID-19). Six studies were implemented in Asia, seven in North/Central America and three in Africa. Interventions included economic empowerment programmes (5); health promotion, largely focused on reproductive health (10); and a postearthquake resettlement programme (1). Included studies assessed gender-based outcomes in the domains of sexual and reproductive health, equal opportunities, access to economic resources, violence and health. There was a dearth of evidence for other outcome domains relevant to gender equity such as harmful practices, sanitation and hygiene practices, workplace discrimination and unpaid work. Economic empowerment interventions showed promise in promoting women’s and girls’ economic and educational opportunities as well as their sexual and reproductive health during PHEs. However, some programme beneficiaries may be at risk of experiencing unintended harms such as an increase in domestic violence. Focused reproductive health promotion may also be an effective strategy for supporting women’s sexual and reproductive health, although additional experimental evidence is needed.


This study identified critical evidence gaps to guide future research on approaches to alleviating gender inequities during PHEs. We further highlight that interventions to promote gender equity in PHEs should take into account possible harmful side effects such as increased gender-based violence.

Review registration

DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/8HKFD.

Strengths and limitations of this study

  • This is the first review to assess interventions and programmes to prevent or mitigate the impact of public health emergencies on gender inequality worldwide.
  • This rapid scoping review points to important evidence gaps with regard to several Sustainable Development Goal indicators of gender inequality (eg, harmful practices, sanitation and hygiene, workplace discrimination and unpaid work).
  • We considered only published studies and are thus unable to present insights that may emerge from reviewing grey literature.
  • Our search was limited to research published in English, and findings published in other languages were therefore not synthesised.
  • While we present evidence on the uptake of, impact of and engagement with interventions, we cannot draw conclusions on why and how a programme may work or not.


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in several million deaths worldwide and has caused devastating socioeconomic disruptions. 1 Emerging evidence shows that women and girls are likely to bear the brunt of the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and that COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbate existing gender inequalities. 2–4 In light of this concern, this rapid scoping review aimed to identify interventions and policy strategies that can advance gender-equitable outcomes in the context of public health emergencies (PHEs). Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently ongoing, we adopted a broad perspective by drawing on scientific evidence from previous PHEs, including disease outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics and natural disasters, along with evidence generated in response to the pandemic to date (28 May 2021). 5

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) aims to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. SDG5 defines gender (in)equality according to different domains, including violence against women, access to sexual and reproductive health, access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), educational and economic opportunities, exposure to harmful practices, as well as care and domestic work. A growing body of literature demonstrates the links between PHEs and gender inequities across these domains. First, existing studies point to a rise in violence against women and girls during PHEs. 3 6–8 Empirical research has documented a higher prevalence of physical and sexual violence against women during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia. 9–12 Recent studies suggest that women and children were exposed to an increased risk of family violence during the COVID-19 lockdown. 13–17 Plausible mechanisms include increased environmental and interpersonal stressors (eg, greater economic instability), the need to shelter in place with abusive partners or family members, and barriers in accessing services or social support. 18 19

Evidence from past PHEs has also highlighted detrimental impacts on women’s sexual and reproductive health, largely as a result of the diversion of scarce healthcare resources and personnel to the immediate emergency response. 20–22 These include excess rates of miscarriages during the 1918 influenza, 23 higher odds of pregnancy-related mortality during the SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) epidemics, 24 and excess maternal, neonatal and stillbirth deaths due to major cuts in antenatal care coverage. 21 The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in the supply chains for modern contraceptives in some low-income countries, 25 which may elevate the risk of teenage pregnancies. Relatedly, during the Ebola crisis in West Africa, the rate of teenage pregnancies increased by 65%–75%. 26

Further, PHEs can disrupt WASH services including the failure of maintenance or supply systems, 27 and restrict access and availability of hygiene products such as soap and menstrual materials. Inadequate access to private, safe and clean WASH facilities can expose women to physical discomfort, shame and stigmatisation while menstruating, 28 and constrain disease prevention efforts altogether. 29 A lack of basic services can also mean that women have to travel long distances to fetch water, which increases women’s unpaid workload while reducing the time spent on education or income generation. 30

Particularly in low-resource settings, PHEs can thwart girls’ educational opportunities and make them more vulnerable to harmful practices such as child marriage. In Sierra Leone, for instance, the school enrolment rate of girls dropped by 16 percentage points post-Ebola. 31 School closures that were implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus have affected more than 800 million girls to date. 32 There has been growing concern that this policy may ultimately widen gender gaps in education due to a higher load of household chores and caregiving work being assigned to girls, preventing them from studying. 32 In addition, as PHEs can put enormous economic strains on low-income households, marrying off a daughter to receive a bride-price can become a survival strategy for some families. For instance, Corno and colleagues found that in sub-Saharan Africa, girls aged 12–17 years had a significantly higher likelihood of getting married if their household was affected by a drought. 33

In addition, in high-income and low-income countries alike, women may face an increased informal care burden in the context of PHEs, either to look after family members who need daily assistance or who have fallen sick, 34 or to look after their children, 35 as was the case during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 4 Increased care responsibility can thwart women’s employment opportunities and amplify pre-existing biases in couples’ division of paid and unpaid work. 36 For instance, Sevilla and Smith found that during the first COVID-19 infection wave in the UK, mothers were taking a substantially larger share of the additional childcare hours per week compared with fathers. 37 In addition, International Labour Organization estimates suggest that during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, informal workers across the world were facing an average of 60% cut in their incomes. 38 Given that the informal sector employs disproportionally more women than men, 39 women have been particularly vulnerable to loss of livelihoods. 30

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic may disproportionately affect women’s health risks. Although epidemiological evidence suggests that the COVID-19 infection and death rates are higher among men (Williamson et al , 2020 40 ), women make up 70% of the global front-line health workforce and may thus face a higher risk of contracting the virus. 20 41–43

In light of this evidence, it is clear that PHEs—including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—are not gender-neutral. 44 Applying a gender lens to interventions and policies implemented in the context of PHEs is therefore crucial. Despite the expansive literature on the detrimental effects of PHEs on women and girls, systematic evidence regarding which interventions can mitigate these impacts to date is scarce. To inform viable response strategies, we conducted a rapid scoping review of the existing evidence on the relationship between interventions implemented in past PHEs and gender equality goals. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive synthesis of the literature on the uptake, mechanisms and effects of PHE response programmes across the domains of gender equality.

A review protocol specifying the search strategy and eligibility criteria was published via the Open Science Foundation on 24 April 2020. 45 Our search and synthesis strategies were based on rapid review guidelines. 46

Search strategy

We searched for published studies describing interventions and policies implemented in the context of PHEs that aimed to reduce gender inequality. We selected major health and social science databases to reflect the cross-disciplinary nature of the topic. We searched MEDLINE, Global Health and Web of Science between 28 April and 7 May 2020 and updated the search on 28 May 2021. Search terms were in English and categorised according to the concepts of (1) PHEs (covering search terms for pandemics, epidemics and natural disaster); (2) outcomes related to gender (in)equality (covering search terms for the following SDG aspects: women’s and girls’ discrimination, violence, harmful practices, unpaid work, equal opportunities, economic participation, WASH and sexual and reproductive health); and (3) interventions (see online supplemental appendix 1 for our search strategy). We hand-searched references of identified literature reviews for additional eligible studies.

Supplementary data

Inclusion criteria.

Studies were eligible if they reported on a gender-based intervention, policy or response strategy that was implemented in the context of a PHE. We defined PHEs as situations in which an imminent threat of harm to public health necessitates immediate and non-routine action, including disease outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics (eg, SARS, Zika, Ebola, etc) or natural disasters (eg, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, etc). 5 47 48 We excluded the HIV/AIDS pandemic, endemic diseases (eg, malaria) rather than rapid and acute emergencies, and human-made rather than exogeneous events (eg, the opioid crisis, humanitarian conflicts and terrorism), as we understood these to involve different mechanisms of impact and because we hypothesised that response strategies would need to be different. We also excluded vaccination and immunisation programmes as these interventions cannot be adequately transferred to the context of other PHEs. Lastly, we excluded programmes that were existing prior to pandemics and then continuously delivered throughout.

Our inclusion criteria required that studies reported on either gendered predictors of uptake of and engagement with (eg, use of and participation in) an active intervention or assessed associations between the intervention and outcomes related to gender (in)equality. To define these outcomes, we drew on the targets of the SDGs, specifically SDG5 on gender equality and other gender-relevant SDG targets (SDG3: health; SDG4: education; SDG6: WASH) (see box 1 for our outcomes framework).

Gender equality outcome framework (authors’ elaboration)

  • Discrimination of women and girls (eg, legal frameworks to promote non-discrimination and enacted/perceived gender attitudes/norms) (SDG 5.1).
  • Violence against women and girls (eg, psychological, physical and sexual violence by an intimate partner or other person) (SDG 5.2).
  • Harmful practices (eg, forced marriage and child marriage) (SDG 5.3).
  • Recognition of unpaid domestic work and shared responsibility of domestic burdens (SDG 5.4).
  • Equal opportunities in political, economic and public life (eg, girls’ school enrolment rates and share of women in political/economic leadership roles) (SDG 5.5 and SDG 4.5).
  • Women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (eg, incidence of teenage pregnancies and use of modern contraceptives) (SDG 5.6 and SDG3.7).
  • Maternal health (SDG 3.1).
  • Equal rights to economic resources (eg, proportion of women in formal employment and access to financial services) (SDG 5.a).
  • Women’s and girls’ access to information and communication technologies (SDG 5.b).
  • Access to water, sanitation and hygiene for women and girls’ specific health needs (eg, women’s access to menstrual health and hygiene resources, etc) (SDG 6.2).

This rapid scoping review excluded qualitative studies but did not apply any other restrictions with regard to the research design, considering that it might be unethical or unfeasible to conduct a randomised controlled trial during a PHE. No restrictions were made in terms of geographical setting of the intervention, participants’ age or publication date.

Study screening and data extraction

After removing duplicates, we screened titles and abstracts. We first independently piloted our screening criteria on 200 records. Once we established 100% consistency in our decisions, we divided the remaining records among all authors. We followed a similar process for full-text screening: we independently piloted 10% of all potentially eligible studies to establish consistency, then we divided screening among four authors. We extracted data from included studies using a piloted Excel form, including (1) type and country of PHE, (2) description of the intervention, (3) target population and sample size, (4) research design and (5) gender-related outcomes.

Data synthesis

We graphically synthesised data by categorising studies according to intervention type and mapped these against our gender inequality outcomes framework. We synthesised these data across three aspects of interventions, drawing on the Medical Research Council framework for evaluating complex interventions: (1) uptake and reach of the intervention; (2) implementation process of the intervention (eg, participant engagement and attendance); and (3) intervention effects. 49 We classified intervention results as positive (+) if estimates suggested that the intervention presented a positive association with gender equity outcomes; negative (−) if estimates suggested that the intervention presented a negative association; and neutral (0) if estimates were not conclusive (ie, a mix of positive, negative or null results). We made these determinations based on the direction and size of the point estimate and variability of the interval estimate, wherever available, as opposed to relying solely on statistical significance, in line with current best practice. 50 51 We critically appraised the quality of included studies according to the suitability of the research design for the research question, the representativeness of the sample, the quality of the measurement procedures, and the transparency and rigour of the applied statistical analyses.

Patient and public involvement

Patients (or in this case: emergency-affected populations) were not involved in the design or analysis stage of this study because we exclusively relied on secondary data from previously published articles. However, we intend to present results to relevant populations to involve them in the interpretation and dissemination of our research finding, as well as involve them in designing questions to ask in future studies.

Included studies

The database search returned 13 920 unique articles after deduplication (see figure 1 ). We excluded 13 546 studies after screening titles and abstracts. After screening 374 full texts, we excluded 353 because they reported on ineligible interventions (61%), were qualitative (22%), were not implemented in the context of a PHE (7%), did not include gender-related outcomes (7%), could not be retrieved in full text (2%) or were currently ongoing (1%). Twenty papers met the inclusion criteria, of which 4 reported on the same intervention, thus resulting in 16 stand-alone studies.

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Review flowchart.

Characteristics of included studies

Geographical setting and PHE

Table 1 and figure 2 present an overview of the 16 included studies. Included studies were published between 2005 and 2021. The majority of interventions were implemented in low-income and middle-income countries, namely, in Ethiopia (2), India (2), Iran (1), Sierra Leone (1), Bangladesh (1), Nepal (1) and Turkey (1). Five interventions were implemented in the USA and three were implemented in Puerto Rico. Eight studies were implemented in the context of natural disasters, including storms (2), flooding (2), droughts (2) and earthquakes (2). The remaining studies reported on interventions carried out in the context of epidemics or a pandemic, namely, Ebola (1), Zika (3) and COVID-19 (4). Sample sizes varied considerably between studies, ranging from 96 pregnant women in the context of COVID-19 52 to evaluations using administrative data for 29 221 women who received a reproductive health training programme in response to the Zika epidemic. 53–55

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Geographical scope and intervention types of included studies.

*Studies report on the same intervention.

LARC, long-acting reversible contraceptive; PHE, public health emergency; RCT, randomised controlled trial.

Intervention types

The included studies covered interventions that can be broadly categorised into three types (see figures 2 and 3 ): (1) economic empowerment, (2) health promotion and (3) postdisaster resettlement. Five studies assessed economic empowerment interventions : three studies reported on microfinance interventions and financial aid (one cross-sectional, one case–control and one experimental study), 56–58 and one cross-sectional study evaluated uptake of a food aid programme implemented in response to several major droughts in Ethiopia. 59 The fifth study, a randomised controlled trial conducted by Bandiera et al , assessed the impact of a multicomponent intervention for young women and girls (aged 12–25 years) in the context of Ebola, featuring training on financial literacy and vocational skills, access to microfinance and other non-economic programme components. 31

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Summary of intervention effects by outcome type. SDG, Sustainable Development Goal.

The second broad intervention category was health promotion programmes , assessed in 10 studies. The majority of these programmes were focused on promoting women’s reproductive health. One cross-sectional study described the New Orleans Healthy Start programme that was implemented shortly after Hurricane Katrina and aimed to improve prenatal care for pregnant women in communities with high infant mortality rates. 60 Another case–control study reported on a community-based health promotion intervention to expand access to healthcare for Nepalese mothers that were severely affected by the 2015 earthquake. 61 Three cross-sectional studies reported on Zika-focused interventions, including (1) reproductive health training and counselling, 53–55 62 (2) training of healthcare providers to increase the quality of contraceptive service provision, 53–55 and (3) building of community awareness through a mass media campaign and distribution of Zika prevention kits. 63 64 Two cross-sectional studies, one cohort study and one randomised controlled trial presented virtual or telehealth health interventions that were implemented in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 52 65–67 All but one of these were focused on reproductive health. One health promotion intervention evaluated a psychosocial care programme for female survivors of the tsunami in India in a case–control design. 68

One case–control study reported on a unique intervention that fell in neither of the aforementioned two categories: a postdisaster resettlement programme implemented in response to the Manjil earthquake in Iran, which involved the relocation and integration of some hard-hit villages to nearby locations. 69

Gender equality outcomes

Figure 3 displays the different outcome measures that were captured by included studies (see also table 1 for detailed information from each study). The figure highlights important gaps: several outcome domains remain fully unaddressed in the context of PHEs, including: (1) harmful practices such as child marriage, (2) WASH management, (3) unpaid work, (4) women’s social discrimination and (5) women’s access to information technology. It is further noteworthy that most assessed interventions (with the exception of Bandiera et al 31 ) targeted only one gender equality domain.

The majority of included studies evaluated outcomes related to sexual and reproductive health: (1) (teenage) pregnancy; (2) access to and use of modern contraceptives; (3) sexual risk behaviours (eg, unprotected, age-disparate sex and transactional sex); (4) access to and satisfaction with prenatal care; (5) prenatal distress and pregnancy anxiety; (6) reproductive healthcare counselling; and (7) menstrual disorders.

Four studies assessed aspects of health equity, including sex-disaggregated malnutrition indicators and receipt of food aid, 70 women’s psychological distress, 68 women’s use of telehealth services 65 and women’s adoption of preventative health behaviours. 63 Two studies reported on dimensions of equal opportunities, specifically capturing girls’ school enrolment, their numeracy and literacy levels, and the engagement of school-aged girls in income-generation activities (which can hamper their educational achievements), 31 as well as women’s civic and political engagement. 71 Lastly, two studies assessed interventions on women’s access to economic resources, specifically food aid membership uptake, 59 female employment, 69 and girls’ financial literacy and entrepreneurial confidence, 31 and two studies focused on gender-based violence. 31 58

Programme uptake, implementation and results

Economic empowerment.

The identified economic empowerment interventions sought to promote gender equality in five outcome domains: (1) gender-based violence, (2) equal opportunities, (3) reproductive health, (4) access to economic resources and (5) health equity (see figure 3 ).

Azadi and colleagues assessed the uptake of a food aid programme among 479 residents in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, using a case–control design. 59 The authors reported higher membership rates among women, with 55% of female respondents receiving food aid compared with 46% of male respondents. However, it remains unclear whether the differences in uptake were due to higher programme uptake among women or due to a higher baseline level of food insecurity among women. Because the study did not specify membership criteria or how households and individuals were sampled, the estimated uptake may be due to selection bias rather than true membership differences between men and women. The study did not examine food security or wider aspects of women’s economic well-being.

The ‘Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents’ (ELA) intervention implemented in Sierra Leone was successful in alleviating some of the negative impacts that the Ebola crisis had on girls’ equal opportunities: in randomly assigned treatment villages, 8% of girls (aged 12–25 years) had dropped out of school, compared with 16% in control villages. Likewise, literacy and numeracy levels were higher for girls in treatment villages. 31 Further, the rate of girls engaged in child labour in the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic rose by 6% in treatment villages compared with 20% in control villages. The ELA intervention also generated beneficial impacts on reproductive health outcomes, including increases in girls’ condom use and a decrease in out-of-wedlock pregnancies. However, strikingly, the authors revealed harmful intervention effects on violence-related outcomes for the older age group. For the ELA intervention, the authors observed an increase in the prevalence of unwanted sex (by 5.3 percentage points) and transactional sex (by 5.4 percentage points) among women aged 18–25 years in villages that experienced high disruption due to the Ebola crisis, compared with women in control villages. 31

Christian and colleagues assessed, in a natural experiment, whether the Odisha Rural Livelihoods Programme, consisting of self-help microcredit networks, mitigated some of the devastating economic impacts of the cyclone in Bengal, India. The analysis revealed the programme had no impact on households’ food expenditures but may have partly cushioned some of the cyclone’s negative effects on household expenditures. Specifically, women who participated in the self-help groups experienced smaller reductions in expenditures on women’s and children’s goods. Postcyclone civic and political engagement did not differ for women who were part of the microcredit network. 56

The microfinance programme in Ethiopia evaluated in a cross-sectional study by Doocy and colleagues showed improvements in health equity in the context of droughts. Specifically, the odds of acute malnourishment among women in control communities were three times as high (OR=3.2, 95% CI 1.1 to 9.8) compared with the odds of women who were established microfinance clients. The authors also note that the programme appeared to benefit female clients more than male clients. The likelihood that male clients had received food aid in the past year was twice as high relative to female clients, suggesting that the microfinance intervention substantially reduced women’s vulnerability to drought and food insecurity. 57

Lastly, Shahriar and Shepherd analysed uptake of a microcredit programme targeted at low-income women in Bangladesh using a case–control design. The authors surveyed women who were first-time loan recipients and found that, among all women, experiencing domestic violence was associated with lower odds of initiating a new business venture via reduced entrepreneurial self-efficacy and fear of business failure. The authors further found that the magnitude of these associations was larger for women who had recently experienced a PHE (flood, river bank erosion or cyclone in the last 12 months) compared with those who had not. The authors concluded therefore that the negative association between domestic violence and women’s entrepreneurial activities (ie, their usage of the microloan) was exacerbated by environmental disasters. However, it should be noted that the authors did not provide the results of a direct comparison of these differential associations (ie, the interaction effect), limiting inferences around the magnitude of the differences by PHE exposure. 58

Health promotion

Nine health promotion interventions that we identified were focused on the domain of sexual and reproductive health. A community engagement health promotion intervention in Nepal resulted in improvements in women’s maternal health knowledge and healthcare seeking behaviour based on a case–control evaluation. 61 For instance, the rate of institutional deliveries as well as antenatal care visits was higher among mothers sampled postintervention than in the group sampled before the intervention. 61 However, the analysis relied on two different samples at baseline and follow-up, whereby the latter sample had a higher proportion of mothers who scored better on a wealth index, which may have biased these comparisons.

Three cross-sectional studies assessed reproductive health outcomes in the context of the Zika epidemic. Earle-Richardson et al reported an assessment of four different interventions strategies to increase Zika prevention behaviours, including personal and home protection behaviours. 63 The study found mixed results for the interventions, which included a Zika orientation, the provision of prevention kits, a public awareness campaign and an offer of free residential mosquito spraying services. Personal protective behaviours including bed net, mosquito repellent and condom use were increased by exposure to interventions, while the offer of free spraying increased home or yard spraying but not other home protection behaviours. Exposure to the different interventions varied, with 93% of pregnant women surveyed reporting exposure to orientation, 75% to kit distribution, 51% to the awareness campaign and 68% to free residential spraying. The reproductive health training delivered to women with a recent live birth in Puerto Rico resulted in higher condom use during pregnancy among women who had received prenatal provider counselling for Zika virus infection prevention. 62 The Zika Contraception Access Network was successful in reaching large populations of women with modern contraceptive (long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC)) methods and social media health communication, securing a high level of user satisfaction and access to LARC removal. 53–55 Reach of the Zika Contraception Access Network was highest if awareness and information messages were delivered via Facebook. 64

The ‘New Orleans Healthy Start’ prenatal care programme, delivered after Hurricane Katrina, showed evidence of successful implementation: a greater proportion of pregnant women who engaged in the programme reported learning about each of the 11 components of prenatal care (eg, smoking) compared with those who accessed traditional prenatal care. 60 These two groups of women did not differ in their reported satisfaction of their prenatal care (eg, regarding waiting time). Women who engaged in the Healthy Start programme were, in general, a higher-risk group, including reporting worse hurricane experiences and more post-traumatic stress. Giarratano et al did not find evidence of an effect of the Healthy Start programme on a variety of prenatal or postnatal outcomes, from birth weight to gestational diabetes. This was interpreted as a programmatic success, given the higher risk among Healthy Start mothers; however, the study was designed to identify programme benefits, not non-inferiority. 60

One case–control study evaluated a psychosocial intervention that was targeted at female survivors of the tsunami disaster in India. 68 In affected communities, trained community workers delivered group sessions to female survivors who were encouraged to share their experiences and learn relaxation exercises. The intervention was associated with significant reductions in symptoms of psychological distress. Specifically, women who participated in the programme had 25% lower scores on the Impact of Event Scale compared with women who had not participated.

Four interventions consisted of telehealth or e-health approaches that were implemented and scaled up in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. One telehealth intervention was delivered to patients in a department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery in Detroit, USA. Using a cohort study design, the authors found that female patients were more likely than male patients to take up virtual visits (OR=1.71, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.63). 65 Another telehealth intervention was focused on prenatal care and targeted 96 pregnant women in Turkey, reporting significant drops in prenatal distress (p=0.008) and pregnancy-related anxiety (p<0.001) when comparing women who participated in the telehealth intervention with those in a control group. 52 Another cross-sectional study assessed uptake of and engagement with a virtual prenatal care programme among 253 pregnant women in the USA, finding that 77.5% of participants were generally satisfied with the virtual care visits; 64.8% perceived the virtual visits as equally safe as in-person visits; and 36.1% had purchased a blood pressure cuff to take their measures at home. 67 A final telehealth intervention was targeted at 331 adolescents in the USA and took a broader focus on diverse health topics. With regard to gender-relevant outcomes, the cross-sectional study revealed that in 22% of all scheduled visits, adolescents sought help and advice on contraception or menstrual disorders, and in 6% of visits, they sought advice on HIV treatment. 66


The case–control study by Badri and colleagues evaluated the outcomes of a planned resettlement programme that was implemented during the reconstruction period after the Manjil earthquake in Iran. 69 Drawing on data collected 11 years after the earthquake, the authors reveal that the resettlement policy hampered employment prospects of women who were hit by the earthquake and forced to relocate to another village. However, it needs to be cautioned that the authors present neither point estimates nor corresponding CI for female employment rates, which makes a more detailed quantitative comparison of women in host communities and women in resettled communities impossible.

Study designs and quality appraisal

Included studies varied substantially with regard to their research design and methodological approach to data analysis (see figure 4 ). Causal inference about the intervention was reliable only in three studies, two of which were set up as cluster randomised controlled trials 31 52 and one as a natural experiment, exploiting variation in the intensity with which communities were hit by a cyclone as well as the staggered roll-out of a microcredit intervention. 56 Five studies relied on cohort or case–control designs to partly control for systematic variation in exposure to the intervention of interest, 53 61 65 68 69 and eight studies relied on cross-sectional, uncontrolled designs. 54 55 57 59 60 63 66 67 In five studies, participants were recruited based on random sampling procedures. 31 56 58 62 63 Four studies relied on convenience sampling, 60 61 68 and three studies did not provide sufficient information on the sampling procedure. 57 59 69 Nine out of 16 studies provided detailed descriptions on the survey instruments and reported on using validation procedures to adapt the questionnaire to the local context and language, or used previously validated psychometric scales. 52 57–60 65–68 Conversely, in four studies, we judged outcome measures to be susceptible to measurement error, either due to an increased risk of social desirability bias for self-reported behaviours (eg, condom use) in a face-to-face interview, 31 recall bias (eg, time use) or failure to use (or report on using) validated or prepiloted scales. 61–63 There was also considerable heterogeneity between studies in terms of statistical rigour: three studies did not present the corresponding SDs, SEs or CIs to their effect estimates, and three studies presented only unadjusted outcome analyses. 53–55 59 69

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Quality appraisal. ANCOVA, analysis of covariance; ANOVA, analysis of variance.

In this rapid scoping review, we sought to identify scientific evidence on strategies for promoting gender equality during PHEs. In view of the multidimensional detrimental impacts that PHEs can have on female empowerment and on women’s societal status, this rapid scoping review reveals important evidence gaps. Notably, none of our included studies examined interventions that targeted sanitation and hygiene management, harmful practices (eg, child marriage), workplace or other forms of discrimination, or unpaid (care) work. More research on how to promote gender equity in these domains during PHEs is urgently needed, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating socioeconomic consequences worldwide. In addition, although the search string was set up to move beyond the gender binary, none of the identified studies specifically targeted gender diverse or sexual minority participants. Hence, there is a dearth of evidence on how to effectively protect LGBTQIA* populations in the context of PHEs.

The studies that we have identified in this rapid scoping review highlighted positive associations between these interventions and women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, 31 53–55 61 educational opportunities, 31 economic welfare 31 and health equity in terms of (mal)nutrition. 57

Two intervention strategies showed promise with regard to promoting gender equality during and after PHEs. First, two evaluation studies 53–55 63 presented large-scale governmental efforts for promoting sexual and reproductive health in the context of the Zika pandemic in Puerto Rico. Such efforts could be scaled up to other countries and may also be highly relevant in the context of PHEs other than Zika. In view of the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies in the aftermath of previous PHEs, 32 ensuring uninterrupted access to modern contraceptives should be considered one of the key policy priorities. In response to lockdown orders, telehealth offers appear to be promising intervention strategies and have shown high levels of uptake and user satisfaction in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 52 65–67 Previous studies have already pointed to the suitability of telehealth interventions for supporting maternal care and women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health outside of public health emergencies. 72 As these services are scaled up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that these are gender-sensitive and that sex-segregated outcomes are included for monitoring and evaluation purposes. 73 Second, economic empowerment programmes may be a crucial strategy for securing women’s and girls’ livelihoods in emergency settings. The impact of such programmes can go beyond economic aspects and may also decrease the risk of harmful coping behaviours such as marrying off a young daughter to receive a bride-price, 33 selling productive assets 74 or engaging in risky sexual behaviour. 75 One of the most widely used and promising tools to cushion the economic shock induced by a PHE are unconditional cash transfers. A rigorous evidence base has already been established, suggesting that unconditional cash transfers, in general, can improve food security, cognitive and physical child development, and stipulate business activities and educational attainment. 76 77 It is important to note that the gendered impacts of PHEs can vary substantially between cultural, political and economic contexts, and thus between high-income and low-income countries. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardised gender equality worldwide and has also put a high burden on women in high-income countries that have successfully narrowed their gender gap in recent years. 4 Based on the evidence discussed in this rapid scoping review, there are important learnings to transport from low-income and middle-income to high-income countries. A first key lesson is the prioritisation of equitable access to services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare. 53–55 A second is the emphasis on women’s economic empowerment, which, in higher-income settings, may focus mostly on extended access to childcare services, uninterrupted income flows, and higher flexibility in working hours and project deadlines. 78 However, it needs to be cautioned that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not exist and that more research on how to protect women’s and girls’ integrity and rights in the context of PHEs in both high-income and low-income countries is urgently needed.

The lack of evidence demonstrated by this rapid scoping review likely reflects the associated risks and difficulties of conducting research and collecting data in PHE settings. Yet, our synthesis demonstrates that well-intended interventions may sometimes have unintended consequences and even induce harm. It is therefore essential that emergency mitigation efforts are accompanied by thorough monitoring and evaluation efforts and integrate feedback systems to stop or modify (unintended) harmful approaches and improve programme response. It is also important that rigorous monitoring and evaluation is applied to gender equality programmes delivered by different policy agents—including philanthropic organisations, larger international organisations as well as national governments—so as to better understand which actors can most effectively intervene, and at which level. Indeed, one of the identified interventions reported a significant increase in violence against women, at least for some programme beneficiaries, postintervention. 31 This corroborates previous evidence documenting that economic empowerment programmes may expose female beneficiaries to a higher risk of violence. 79 80 To this end, promising mitigation strategies in delivering economic strengthening programmes have included adding specific training and awareness raising on gender roles and stereotypes and engaging male spouses in these programme components. 79 81–83 Given the rarity of being able to exploit random variation in PHE settings, these efforts should include, wherever possible, measuring key confounders of the programme–outcome association (which can be determined in times of non-emergencies and based on existing literature) as well as using appropriate measurement procedures, including appropriately trained interviewers, safe and secure data collection and storage, and validated instruments. While causality is difficult to establish in the absence of experimental designs, rich qualitative data as well as mixed-methods analyses can help depict the channels through which a programme may induce improvements in gender equality outcomes.

A number of limitations are noteworthy. First, our search strategy was set up with English search terms only and non-English publications were excluded. Second, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate demand for evidence-based policy strategies, we prioritised rapid evidence generation over a more systematic search by focusing only on published studies. Therefore, it is possible that our rapid scoping review did not capture some eligible programmes that were available only in grey literature outlets. Third, while we categorise reported coefficients for any of the intervention–outcome association as positive (+), negative (−) and neutral (0), they should not be interpreted as causal. Thirteen out of 16 included studies were based on research designs that did not allow for causal inference on the intervention impacts. Lastly, we did not include qualitative data in this rapid scoping review in order to prioritise evidence with conclusions on intervention effectiveness. However, this is a valuable direction for future inquiry, to generate further insights into the mechanisms of change underlying effective programmes or into the facilitating and inhibiting factors that explain interventions’ successes and failures.

The current COVID-19 pandemic with its ‘triple hit to health, education and income’ is projected to severely slow down progress towards realising the SDGs by 2030. 84 The SDG5 for ‘gender equality’ is no exception, as emphasised by UN Secretary-General António Guterres: ‘Limited gains in gender equality and women’s rights made over the decades are in danger of being rolled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic’. 85 Findings from this rapid scoping review provide preliminary support for economic empowerment programmes and focused sexual and reproductive health to promote gender equality in the domains of sexual and reproductive health, 31 53–55 61 62 equal opportunities 31 and health equity. 68 70 However, this rapid scoping review also uncovers important evidence gaps across all outcome domains of gender equality, particularly with regard to the (1) prevention of harmful practices, (2) adequate WASH management, (3) women’s time use and care burden, (4) workplace and other discrimination, and (5) access to technologies and economic resources. Concerted monitoring and evaluation efforts in PHE settings are urgently needed to inform responsive and effective policy programmes.

Supplementary Material


We are grateful for funding from the Joachim Herz Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Twitter: @jisteinert, @CateAlacevich

Contributors: JIS, ARY, CA and JH conceptualised the study and developed the review protocol. BS ran the database searches. JIS drafted the first version of the manuscript and ARY, CA, BS and JH provided substantial revisions and feedback. All authors screened abstracts and titles, extracted and analysed the data with feedback from all authors, and read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Funding: JS is supported by the Joachim Herz Foundation. BS is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. AY is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (HSI-166388)

Map disclaimer: The inclusion of any map (including the depiction of any boundaries therein), or of any geographical or locational reference, does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. Any such expression remains solely that of the relevant source and is not endorsed by BMJ. Maps are provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

Competing interests: None declared.

Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Supplemental material: This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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Gender Equality

The unfinished business of our time.

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.

Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women, warns UN Women. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to end the multiple forms of gender violence and secure equal access to quality education and health, economic resources and participation in political life for both women and girls and men and boys. It is also essential to achieve equal opportunities in access to employment and to positions of leadership and decision-making at all levels.

Guterres highlights that gender equality is more important than ever if we are to create prosperous economies and a healthy planet. However, he admits that we face a critical challenge: an alarming $360 billion annual gender gap by 2030.

To revert this trend, he has identified five key areas that need joint action: Investing in women, ending poverty, implementing gender-responsive financing, shifting to a green economy and care society and supporting feminist change-makers.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres has stated that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The United Nations and women

UN support for the rights of women began with the Organization's founding Charter. Among the purposes of the UN declared in  Article 1 of its Charter  is “ To achieve international co-operation … in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion .”

Within the UN’s first year, the Economic and Social Council established its  Commission on the Status of Women , as the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Among its earliest accomplishments was ensuring gender neutral language in the draft  Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

Women's rights as a human right

Gender Equality was made part of international human rights law by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. That milestone document in the history of human rights recognized that “ All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights ” and that “ everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, … birth or other status .”

As the international feminist movement began to gain momentum during the 1970s, the General Assembly declared 1975 as the International Women’s Year and organized the first World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City. At the urging of the Conference, it subsequently declared the years 1976-1985 as the  UN Decade for Women , and established a Voluntary Fund for Decade.

In 1979, the General Assembly adopted the  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) , which is often described as an International Bill of Rights for Women. In its 30 articles, the Convention explicitly defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. The Convention targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations, and it is the first human rights treaty to affirm the reproductive rights of women.

Five years after the Mexico City conference, a Second World Conference on Women was held in Copenhagen in 1980. The resulting Programme of Action called for stronger national measures to ensure women's ownership and control of property, as well as improvements in women's rights with respect to inheritance, child custody and loss of nationality

Birth of Global Feminism

In 1985, the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, was held in Nairobi. It was convened at a time when the movement for gender equality had finally gained true global recognition, and 15,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in a parallel NGO Forum.

The event was described by many as “the birth of global feminism”. Realizing that the goals of the Mexico City Conference had not been adequately met, the 157 participating governments adopted the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies to the Year 2000. The document broke new ground by declaring all issues to be women’s issues.

Beijing Conference on Women

The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, went a step further than the Nairobi Conference. The  Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action  asserted women’s rights as human rights and committed to specific actions to ensure respect for those rights. 

Commission on the Status of Women

The  Commission on the Status of Women  (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Commission's priorities for the 2021-2024 period are:

  • Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
  • Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
  • Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
  • Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.

An Organization for Women

On 2 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously voted to create a single UN body tasked with accelerating progress in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. The new UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – or  UN Women  – merged four of the world body’s agencies and offices: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

UN Women focuses on four main areas: promoting women's leadership and political participation, empowering women economically, ending violence against women, and supporting women's full and equal participation in peace processes and security efforts.

Women and the Sustainable Development Goals

Equality and empowerment.

The United Nations is now focusing its global development work on the recently-developed 17  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . Women have a  critical role to play  in all of the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution.

Goal 5 , to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls" is known as the stand-alone gender goal, because it is dedicated to achieving these ends. Deep legal and legislative changes are needed to ensure women’s rights around the world. While a record 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their Constitutions by 2014, another 52 had not taken this step. 

Stark  gender disparities  remain in economic and political realms. While there has been some progress over the decades, on average women in the labour market still earn 20 per cent less than men globally. As of 2024, only 26.8 per cent of all national parliamentarians were female, a slow rise from 11.3 per cent in 1995.

Eliminating Violence Against Women

The UN system continues to give particular attention to the issue of violence against women. The 1993 General Assembly  Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women  contained “a clear and comprehensive definition of violence against women [and] a clear statement of the rights to be applied to ensure the elimination of violence against women in all its forms”. It represented “a commitment by States in respect of their responsibilities, and a commitment by the international community at large to the elimination of violence against women”.

Violence against women is a pandemic affecting all countries, even those that have made laudable progress in other areas. Worldwide, 30 per cent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

In September 2017, the European Union and the United Nations joined forces to launch the  Spotlight Initiative , a global, multi-year initiative that focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

The  International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women  is observed on 25 November.

International Women's Day and other observances

International Women’s Day  is observed annually on 8 March. International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. It is a day, observed by many countries around the world, on which women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

Besides International Women’s Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the UN observes other international days dedicated to raising awareness of different aspects of the struggle for gender equality and women empowerment. On February 6, the  International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation  is observed, February 11 is the  International Day of Women and Girls in Science , June 19 is the  International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict , June 23 is  International Widows' Day , October 11 is the  International Day of the Girl Child  and on October 15 the  International Day of Rural Women  is observed.

Gender-inclusive language

Gender Inclusive Language Guidelines

Given the key role that language plays in shaping cultural and social attitudes, using gender-inclusive language is a powerful way to promote gender equality and eradicate gender bias.

Being inclusive from a gender language perspective means speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.

These  Guidelines  include recommendations and materials, created to help United Nations staff use gender-inclusive language in any type of communication — oral or written, formal or informal — and are a useful starting point for anyone.

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  • Gender Equality Essay


Introduction to Gender Equality

In a society, everyone has the right to lead his/her life accordingly without any discrimination. When this state is achieved where all individuals are considered to be equal irrespective of their caste, gender, colour, profession, and status, we call it equality. Equality can also be defined as the situation where every individual has the same rights and equal opportunity to grow and prosper. 

Every individual of society dreams for equal rights and access to resources available at their disposal, but there is a lot of discrimination. This discrimination can be due to cultural differences, geographical differences, the colour of the individual, social status and even gender. The most prevalent discrimination is gender inequality. It is not a localised issue and is limited to only certain spheres of life but is prevalent across the globe. Even in progressive societies and top organisations, we can see many examples of gender bias. 

Gender equality can only be achieved when both male and female individuals are treated similarly. But discrimination is a social menace that creates division. We stop being together and stand together to tackle our problems. This social stigma has been creeping into the underbelly of all of society for many centuries. This has also been witnessed in gender-based cases. Gender inequality is the thing of the past as both men and women are creating history in all segments together.

Gender Equality builds a Nation

In this century, women and men enjoy the same privileges. The perception is changing slowly but steadily. People are now becoming more aware of their rights and what they can do in a free society. It has been found that when women and men hold the same position and participate equally, society progresses exclusively and creates a landmark. When a community reaches gender equality, everyone enjoys the same privileges and gets similar scopes in education, health, occupation, and political aspect. Even in the family, when both male and female members are treated in the same way, it is the best place to grow, learn, and add great value.

A nation needs to value every gender equally to progress at the right place. A society attains better development in all aspects when both genders are entitled to similar opportunities. Equal rights in decision making, health, politics, infrastructure, profession, etc will surely advance our society to a new level. The social stigma of women staying inside the house has changed. Nowadays, girls are equally competing with boys in school. They are also creating landmark development in their respective profession. Women are now seeking economic independence before they get married. It gives them the confidence to stand against oppression and make better decisions for themselves.

The age-old social structure dictated that women need to stay inside the home taking care of all when men go out to earn bread and butter. This has been practised for ages when the world outside was not safe. Now that the time has changed and we have successfully made our environment quite safer, women can step forward, get educated, pursue their passion, bring economic balance in their families, and share the weight of a family with men. This, in a cumulative way, will also make a country’s economy progress faster and better.

Methods to measure Gender Equality

Gender equality can be measured and a country’s growth can be traced by using the following methods.

Gender Development Index (GDI) is a gender-based calculation done similar to the Human Development Index. 

Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) is a detailed calculation method of the percentage of female members in decision-making roles. 

Gender Equity Index (GEI) considers economic participation, education, and empowerment.

Global Gender Gap Index assesses the level of gender inequality present on the basis of four criteria: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, health and survival .

According to the Gender Gap Index (GGI), India ranks 140 among 156 participating countries. This denotes that the performance of India has fallen from the previous years, denoting negative growth in terms of closing the gender gap. In the current environment where equality and equal opportunities are considered supreme, this makes India be at a significant disadvantage.

Roadblocks to Gender Equality  

Indian society is still wrecked by such stigmas that dictate that women are meant to manage the home and stay indoors. This is being done for ages, leading to neglect of women in areas like education, health, wealth, and socio-economic fields. 

In addition to that, the dowry system is further crippling society. This ill practice had led to numerous female feticides. It has created a notion that girls are a burden on a family, which is one of the primary reasons a girl child cannot continue her education. Even if they excel in education and become independent, most of them are forced to quit their job as their income is considered a backup source, which is not fair. New-age women are not only independent, but they are confident too. The only thing they demand from society is support, which we should provide them.  

Along with dowry, there is one more burning issue that has a profound impact on women's growth. It is prevalent in all kinds of society and is known as violence. Violence against women is present in one or another form in public and private spaces. Sometimes, violence is accompanied by other burning issues such as exploitation, harassment, and trafficking, making the world unsafe for women. We must take steps to stop this and ensure a safe and healthy place for women.  

Poverty is also one of the major roadblocks towards gender equality. It has led to other malpractices such as child marriage, sale of children, trafficking and child labour, to name a few. Providing equal job opportunities and upliftment of people below the poverty line can help bring some checks onto this.

Initiative Towards Gender Equality

Any kind of discrimination acts as a roadblock in any nation’s growth, and a nation can only prosper when all its citizens have equal rights. Most of the developed countries has comparatively less gender discrimination and provide equal opportunity to both genders. Even the Indian government is taking multiple initiatives to cut down gender discrimination. 

They have initiated a social campaign called “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana” to encourage the education of girl children. Besides this, the government runs multiple other schemes, such as the Women Helpline Scheme, UJJAWALA, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, etc., to generate awareness among the people. Moreover, as responsible citizens, it is our responsibility to spread knowledge on gender discrimination to create a beautiful world for wome n [1] [2] .


FAQs on Gender Equality Essay

1. What Makes Women Unequal to Men?

The social stigmas and beliefs that have been running deeply in the veins of all families make women unequal to men. Women are considered to be a burden by many families and are not provided with the same rights men enjoy in society. We are ill-informed regarding women’s rights and tend to continue age-old practices. This is made worse with social menaces such as the dowry system, child labor, child marriage, etc. Women can gather knowledge, get educated, and compete with men. This is sometimes quite threatening to the false patriarchal society.

2. How can We Promote Gender Equality?

Education is the prime measure to be taken to make society free from such menaces. When we teach our new generation regarding the best social practices and gender equal rights, we can eradicate such menaces aptly. Our society is ill-informed regarding gender equality and rights. Many policies have been designed and implemented by the government. As our country holds the second position in terms of population, it is hard to tackle these gender-based problems. It can only be erased from the deepest point by using education as the prime weapon.

3. Why should Women be Equal to Men?

Women might not be similar to men in terms of physical strength and physiological traits. Both are differently built biologically but they have the same brain and organs to function. Women these days are creating milestones that are changing society. They have traveled to space, running companies, creating history, and making everyone proud. Women are showing their capabilities in every phase and hence, they should be equal to men in all aspects.

4. Mention a few initiatives started by the Indian Government to enable gender equality.

The Indian government has initiated a social campaign called “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana” to encourage girls’ education. Besides this, the government runs multiple other schemes, such as the  Women Helpline Scheme, UJJAWALA, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, etc., to generate awareness among the people.

Gender Equality Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on gender equality essay.

Equality or non-discrimination is that state where every individual gets equal opportunities and rights. Every individual of the society yearns for equal status, opportunity, and rights. However, it is a general observation that there exists lots of discrimination between humans. Discrimination exists because of cultural differences, geographical differences, and gender. Inequality based on gender is a concern that is prevalent in the entire world.  Even in the 21 st century, across globe men and women do not enjoy equal privileges. Gender equality means providing equal opportunities to both men and women in political, economic, education and health aspects.

gender equality essay

Importance of Gender Equality

A nation can progress and attain higher development growth only when both men and women are entitled to equal opportunities. Women in the society are often cornered and are refrained from getting equal rights as men to health, education, decision-making and economic independence in terms of wages.

The social structure that prevails since long in such a way that girls do not get equal opportunities as men. Women generally are the caregivers in the family. Because of this, women are mostly involved in household activities. There is lesser participation of women in higher education, decision-making roles, and leadership roles. This gender disparity is a hindrance in the growth rate of a country. When women participate in the workforce increases the economic growth rate of the country increases. Gender equality increases the overall wellbeing of the nation along with economic prosperity .

How is Gender Equality Measured?

Gender equality is an important factor in determining a country’s overall growth. There are several indexes to measure gender equality.

Gender-Related Development Index (GDI) –   GDI is a gender centric measure of Human Development Index. GDI considers parameters like life expectancy, education, and incomes in assessing the gender equality of a country.

Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) – This measure includes much detail aspects like the proportion of seats than women candidates hold in national parliament, percentage of women at economic decision-making role, the income share of female employees.

Gender Equity Index (GEI) – GEI ranks countries on three parameters of gender inequality, those are education, economic participation, and empowerment. However, GEI ignores the health parameter.

Global Gender Gap Index – The World Economic Forum introduced the Global Gender Gap Index in 2006. This index focuses more on identifying the level of female disadvantage. The four important areas that the index considers are economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, health, and survival rate.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Gender Inequality in India

As per the World Economic Forum’s gender gap ranking, India stands at rank 108 out of 149 countries. This rank is a major concern as it highlights the immense gap in opportunities in women with comparison to men. In Indian society from a long time back, the social structure has been such that the women are neglected in many areas like education, health, decision-making areas, financial independence, etc.

Another major reason, which contributes to the discriminatory behavior towards women in India, is the dowry system in marriage.  Because of this dowry system, most Indian families consider girls as a burden.  Preference for son still prevails. Girls have refrained from higher education. Women are not entitled to equal job opportunities and wages. In the 21 st century, women are still preferred gender in home managing activities. Many women quit their job and opt-out from leadership roles because of family commitments. However, such actions are very uncommon among men.

For overall wellbeing and growth of a nation, scoring high on gender equality is the most crucial aspect. Countries with less disparity in gender equality have progressed a lot. The government of India has also started taking steps to ensure gender equality. Several laws and policies are prepared to encourage girls. “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana ” (Save girl, and make girls educated) campaign is created to spread awareness of the importance of girl child.  Several laws to protect girls are also there. However, we need more awareness of spreading knowledge of women rights . In addition, the government should take initiatives to check the correct and proper implementation of policies.

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Defining Gender Equality: An Essay Exploring the Importance and Implications

Defining Gender Equality: An Essay Exploring the Importance and Implications

Much has been said and written about gender equality, and yet the topic remains relevant and urgent. In this essay, we will delve into the various aspects and implications of gender equality, dissecting its importance for both men and women in our society. It is a topic that demands our attention, as we strive for a world where everyone is treated with respect and given equal opportunities.

Gender equality is not a new concept; it has been a point of discussion for centuries. However, in recent years, it has gained momentum and taken a prominent place in public discourse. The #MeToo movement, for instance, has shed light on the abuse and harassment that women face in the workplace and beyond. It has brought attention to the inequality that exists between genders and the urgent need to address it.

One of the reasons why gender equality is so crucial is that it affects every aspect of our lives. From the workplace to the home, from social interactions to health benefits, gender equality plays a significant role in shaping our experiences. Bonnie O’Hagan, in her essay on “China’s Gender Parity Goals,” argues that achieving gender equality in China would not only have a positive effect on women’s lives but also on the country as a whole. She points out that there is a direct correlation between gender equality and economic growth.

Gender equality, however, goes beyond just economic benefits. Natalia Phung, in her essay on “The Invisible Work of Women,” highlights the unseen work that women do in the household, such as childcare, cooking, and cleaning. This work is often taken for granted and undervalued, leading to a lack of recognition and respect for women’s contributions. Phung argues that if we want to achieve true gender equality, we need to acknowledge and value the unpaid labor that women perform.

Moreover, gender equality is not just about women; it is about achieving a balance and breaking down gender stereotypes that limit both men and women. Ryan Women, in her essay on “The Benefits of Gender Equality in Stem Careers,” asserts that by encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM fields, we can challenge the societal norms that dictate gender roles and expectations. This, in turn, will lead to a more inclusive and diverse workforce, benefiting everyone involved.

Understanding Gender Equality

Gender equality is not about putting women above men or vice versa – it’s about creating a society where everyone has equal opportunities, rights, and treatment, regardless of their gender. It’s about breaking down the socially-constructed barriers that limit individuals based on their gender and ensuring that everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.

One of the most visible examples of gender inequality is the pay gap between men and women. On average, women still earn less than men for doing the same job. For example, Ellie McCoy, a working mother, discovered that she was being paid $10,000 less than Adam O’Hagan, her male colleague, for performing the same work. This exemplifies the discrimination and disparity that too many women face in the workplace.

Moreover, gender equality is not just about women’s rights. It also involves advocating for men’s rights and challenging stereotypes that limit both genders. For instance, Mark Chu, a stay-at-home father, faced judgment and criticism for defying traditional gender roles and choosing to take care of his children while his wife pursued her career.

Gender equality is a global issue that affects every country, regardless of its social, cultural, or economic power. Even in developed countries like the United States, where progress has been made in terms of women’s rights, there is still work to be done. Essays, discussions, and advocacy are essential in raising awareness and pushing for change.

One aspect of gender inequality that often goes unnoticed is how it affects men. For example, in many countries, men are not entitled to any paid paternity leave. This not only perpetuates the notion that men should not be actively involved in their children’s lives but also places an unfair burden on women, who are expected to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities.

Addressing gender equality requires the active participation of governments, organizations, and individuals. Policymakers need to enact legislation that promotes gender equality, and companies need to ensure equal pay and equal opportunities for their employees. In schools, gender equality should be included in the curriculum and discussed openly to promote understanding and acceptance.

Ultimately, the goal of gender equality is to create a world where individuals are not limited or defined by their gender. It’s about building systems and societies that value and respect the contributions of everyone, regardless of their gender. By advocating for gender equality, we can create a more just and equitable world for everyone.

The Importance of Gender Equality

One of the key benefits of gender equity is the positive impact it has on the economy. When women have equal access to education and employment opportunities, they contribute significantly to the economic growth of their country. Studies have shown that closing the gender wage gap and achieving gender parity in the workforce could result in substantial economic gains.

In addition to the economic benefits, gender equality is also essential for individual well-being. When individuals are treated equally, regardless of their gender, they have better access to healthcare and are more likely to stay healthy. They also have access to quality education, which helps them make informed choices and improves their overall quality of life.

Furthermore, gender equality is crucial for promoting social justice and creating a just society. In many countries, women still face limited opportunities, discrimination, and violence. Achieving gender equality means giving women a voice and ensuring their rights are protected.

Gender equality also plays a significant role in the workplace. It is important to create a work environment that values diversity and provides equal opportunities for both men and women. When gender equality is present in the workplace, it leads to increased productivity, creativity, and innovation.

Another important aspect is that gender equality transcends national boundaries. It is a global issue that requires international cooperation and collaboration. By working together, different countries can share knowledge, experiences, and best practices to address the challenges associated with gender inequality.

Moreover, gender equality is not only about women’s rights; it is about creating a society where everyone’s rights are respected and valued. Men also face certain gender stereotypes and expectations that can limit their choices and opportunities. Gender equality promotes a more inclusive society where individuals can express their true selves without fear of judgment or discrimination.

The Implications of Gender Equality

Gender equality entails the empowerment of both men and women, ensuring that all genders have equal opportunities and rights in society. Achieving gender equality has numerous implications for various aspects of life, including health, education, career opportunities, and social cohesion.

Firstly, promoting gender equality has significant implications for individuals’ health. Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between gender equality and population health outcomes. In countries where gender equality is high, individuals, regardless of their gender, have better access to healthcare and experience improved health outcomes.

Gender equality also has implications for education, with research showing that gender parity in education is directly linked to increased economic growth and productivity. When girls and women have equal opportunities to receive education, they are more likely to enter higher-paying jobs and contribute to the economy. Moreover, gender equality in education leads to more informed and engaged citizens who are better equipped to participate in the democratic process.

The implications of gender equality are also evident in the workplace. Closing the gender pay gap is crucial for achieving equality, as it ensures that individuals are paid based on their skills and not influenced by their gender. Furthermore, promoting gender equality in the workplace fosters a more inclusive and diverse environment, which has been linked to increased productivity and innovation.

Gender equality also has broader implications for society as a whole. When all genders are treated with equal respect and opportunities, it creates a more socially harmonious and cohesive community. Gender equality can help dismantle harmful socially-constructed stereotypes and norms, promoting a more inclusive and accepting society for all individuals.

Furthermore, gender equality is essential for political representation and participation. When women and other marginalized genders have equal access to political systems, their interests and concerns are more likely to be represented. Gender equality in politics also has a powerful effect on policy-making, leading to more inclusive and equitable decisions.

Equality as our Goal, Access as our Right: A Photo Essay

The first photo in this essay depicts a march advocating for women’s rights. The image captures the determination and unity of individuals who believe in the equality of all genders. By participating in such demonstrations, people express their commitment to creating a society where everyone is afforded the same opportunities.

An alarming statistic is highlighted in the next image: the percentage wage gap between men and women. This data illustrates the significant disparity in earnings between genders, which is a clear indication of the inequality that persists in the workforce. It is important to address this inequality and strive towards closing the gap.

The following photo focuses on the concept of respect. It showcases individuals from diverse backgrounds, races, and genders engaging in meaningful discussions. Respect and open dialogues are essential for fostering understanding and equality within communities, as they provide spaces for individuals to share their experiences and perspectives.

A powerful image of a woman standing up against abuse is presented next. This photo serves as a reminder of the struggles that women face and the importance of combating all forms of gender-based violence. By raising awareness and promoting societal change, we can create safer environments for everyone.

The photo essay then highlights the accomplishments and successes of women in various fields. From scientists and artists to politicians and entrepreneurs, women have made significant contributions to society. By showcasing these achievements, the essay emphasizes the need to celebrate and support women in their pursuits, regardless of the domain they choose to excel in.

The next image portrays a female employee, inspiring and empowered in her career. It serves as a reminder that women have the right to pursue fulfilling professional lives and should not be confined to traditional gender roles. Equality in the workplace requires providing women with equal opportunities for career advancement and eliminating biases and discrimination.

The essay also touches on the topic of reproductive rights and the challenges women face in balancing their personal and professional lives. The photo of a pregnant woman signifies the need for policies and support systems that enable women to have children without sacrificing their careers. It emphasizes the importance of creating an inclusive and supportive environment within society.

To further emphasize the need for equality, the photo essay shows the discrimination faced by women in poverty-stricken areas. The image showcases women who are working tirelessly to make ends meet and the barriers they encounter in accessing basic resources and opportunities. It highlights the urgent need for policies and initiatives that empower these women and ensure they are not left behind.

Throughout the essay, each photo tells a story and captures different aspects of the fight for gender equality. Whether it is through advocating for women’s rights, closing the wage gap, empowering women in their careers, or addressing the challenges faced by marginalized groups, it is clear that achieving gender equality takes collective effort and commitment.

What is the definition of gender equality?

Gender equality refers to the equal treatment and rights of individuals regardless of their gender identity or expression. It means that all individuals, regardless of their gender, are entitled to the same opportunities, resources, and treatment in all aspects of life.

Why is gender equality important?

Gender equality is important because it ensures that all individuals have equal opportunities, rights, and access to resources, regardless of their gender. It promotes fairness, social justice, and contributes to a more inclusive and progressive society.

What are some of the implications of gender inequality?

Gender inequality has numerous implications. It restricts economic growth, limits educational opportunities, and perpetuates social and cultural stereotypes. It also contributes to violence, discrimination, and marginalization of individuals based on their gender.

What are some effective strategies to promote gender equality?

Effective strategies to promote gender equality include raising awareness through education and campaigns, establishing and enforcing laws and policies that protect gender rights, promoting women’s empowerment, and encouraging equal representation and participation of women in decision-making processes.

How can individuals contribute to promoting gender equality in their everyday lives?

Individuals can contribute to promoting gender equality by challenging and questioning gender stereotypes, treating others with respect and dignity regardless of their gender, promoting equal opportunities and fairness in their personal and professional lives, and supporting organizations and initiatives that work towards gender equality.

What is gender equality?

Gender equality refers to the equal treatment and rights of men and women, where they are not discriminated against or disadvantaged based on their gender. It aims to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities, access to resources, and social and economic rights, regardless of their gender.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California , and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.

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Equal Rights for Women: The Ongoing Struggle for Gender Equality

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Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 613 | Page: 1 | 4 min read

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response essay about gender equality

How to advance gender equality in climate change response

Illustration of five diverse people: one carrying a sun, one a tree, one a droplet of water, and one the recyling symbol. This illustration is related to the climate change conference

To redress this gender injustice in leadership recognition and representation, and advance gender equality in the governmental and corporate climate change response, UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Programme and the Permanent Delegation of Iceland to UNESCO led a high-level side event to the 66th Commission on the Status of Women on 22 March 2022.

80% of those displaced by climate-related disasters and changes around the world are women and girls. Thus, we need a gender lens in climate action to ensure girls' full and equal participation in decision-making in the field. Regarding youth, they need full support in discovering solutions to the challenges they face and UNESCO is advancing a great scheme to support youth researchers

Experts agreed on the importance of bolstering and investing in gender statistics and data to underpin evidence-based feminist climate actions. Moreover, women and youth groups need to have better access to resources and spaces to share their expertise. The experts agreed that indigenous peoples’ rights must also be protected and prioritized to promote indigenous people as rights holders in combatting climate change.

Iceland commits more than 90% of its bilateral cooperation to gender and more than 50% to environmental questions.

Experts emphasized that, because the climate crisis is also linked to colonialism, capitalism, domination, and patriarchal gender norms and masculinities, climate justice cannot be achieved without gender justice and vice versa . They called for:

  • feminist and youth-led principles and financing mechanisms in climate action;
  • improvements in gender-disaggregated data and evidence bases; and
  • better awareness-raising on women’s and youth leadership.

Gabriela Ramos (Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO),  Unnur Orradóttir-Ramette (Ambassador of Iceland to France, Permanent Delegate of Iceland to the OECD and UNESCO, Co-Chair of the UNESCO Group of Friends for Gender Equality), and Ivan Ivanisevic (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Montenegro to France, Permanent Delegate of Montenegro to UNESCO) were joined by global experts: Francisco Calí Tzay (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), Sarah Hendriks (Director of the Programme, Policy and Intergovernmental Division, UN Women), Michèle Nken (Youth UNESCO Climate Action Network [YoU-CAN]) and Sohanur Rahman (Leader in Fridays For Future, Member of the MenEngage Alliance's Climate Justice Working Group). The discussion was moderated by Humberto Carolo (Executive Director of White Ribbon in Canada and Global Co-Chair of the MenEngage Alliance).

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Gender Inequality as a Global Issue Essay

Culture, society, and law, technology and infrastructure, consequences.

Gender inequality is a global issue where men and women enjoy different levels of representation in various spheres of life. Generally predisposed against females, multiple factors conspire to limit their opportunities for education and employment, as well as, in more extreme cases, lead to violence. The causes of such inequality can stem from biology, culture, and technology. This essay will examine some of the causes that affect the gap in the treatment of men and women, and its ramifications, particularly regarding developing countries. One particular metric that will be used is female labor force participation (FLFP).

Humans are sexually dimorphic species; males and females exhibit different physical characteristics. While these differences have led to often oppressive cultural norms, they are impossible to reject. Large parts of developing nations are pre-industrial, where “individuals do not receive any education and primarily work in agricultural jobs as unskilled workers” (Hiller, 2014, p. 457). The labor efficiency in such jobs affects the roles available to men and women. For instance, some regions of India have soil that is more suitable for deep tillage and, therefore, the use of plows — heavy tools that require upper body strength to operate. As a consequence of this, “in parts of India with soil suitable for deep tillage, there is lower FLFP and a more male-skewed sex ratio” (Jayachandran, 2015, p. 72). In these regions, men had a physical advantage, which led to their higher representation in the labor force and positions of power.

For comparison, China’s agricultural areas provide a different example: regions that specialize in tea production. There, women have a “comparative advantage in picking tea leaves” (Jayachandran, 2015, p. 72). After economic reforms in those areas, various improvements have been noted regarding gender equality, as female children became more desirable and women more financially independent. These findings suggest that physiological differences, but also opportunities to make the best use of the advantages posed by these differences, play an important role in creating gender equality or inequality.

While physical differences may have caused an initial degree of gender inequality, cultural norms always form in response to them, strengthening this imbalance for the future, when physical differences are no longer relevant. Usually, this takes the form of a strong patriarchal tradition under which men take on a more proactive role in society. In contrast, women are relegated to more subservient and supportive positions. As a result of such traditions, women can face opposition when they seek education or employment or attempt to act outside of their society-mandated roles.

Girls’ education opportunities are not necessarily enforced explicitly by existing laws or regulations. The choice to educate a child is primarily made by their parents, according to social and cultural norms. Hiller (2014) explains that “if a ‘strong norm’ exists, according to which husbands should be the primary breadwinners of the family, parents grant a low value to the education of their daughters” (p. 457). Therefore, young women are often denied the schooling necessary to find better work.

Tradition and religion still play a significant part in women being underrepresented. While laws may be proposed that seek to create opportunities for women, they are turned down for such reasons. Nigeria is one such country, where “customary and religious arguments were the major justifications put forward by [local] legislators for their rejection of bills to promote women’s rights and gender equality” (Para-Mallam, 2017, p. 28). This legislative issue reinforces the existing inequality, keeping women in a disadvantaged position.

The points listed above concern pre-industrial societies, but as they develop, technology and improvements to infrastructure present new circumstances that can increase gender equality. As women tend to be engaged in various domestic chores in such cultures, making said chores easier and more efficient frees up their time. For instance, work such as fetching firewood and water is generally performed by women — therefore, providing plumbing and electric heating “will disproportionately free up women to work outside the home more or enjoy more leisure” (Jayachandran, 2015, p. 74). This change, in turn, would allow them more opportunities for education or work.

Advances in medicine are another change that improves women’s opportunities, mainly when it concerns obstetrics. Jayachandran (2015) notes that “childbearing is not only more common in developing countries; it is also more dangerous” (p. 74). It has been observed that improvements in this area in several countries reduced maternal mortality and complications at childbirth that might have had long-term effects. This change led to an increase in women’s ability to return to work after giving birth (Jayachandran, 2015). Similarly, access to contraception has been observed to free up women’s time available for education and work, consequently allowing them to gain more equal positions with men and creating a quantitative increase in FLFP.

Improvements in infrastructure can serve to increase gender equality in rural areas. Parents in these regions tend to be protective of their daughters. However, Jayachandran (2015) notes that “it is difficult to say how much of the limited mobility is out of genuine concern for women’s welfare … and how much is simply a way to stifle female autonomy” (pp. 77-78). This protectiveness makes parents less likely to choose to educate their daughters, especially if a school is not available nearby. Studies have observed that “a village school essentially closes the otherwise-large gender gap in enrollment” (Jayachandran, 2015, p. 78). Therefore, a single school can serve to educate boys from a significantly larger area than girls.

A significant difference in the treatment of men and women has significant consequences, most of which are negative. Since the causes persist in families, discrimination starts there, as parents consider investing in sons seems to be the better option than daughters. In day-to-day life, Para-Mallam (2017) found that Nigerian “rural men spend approximately two hours less than women doing work … and have one hour per day more for rest and recreation” (p. 28). In the distribution of a community’s shared resources, Agarwal (2018) points out that often, “female-headed households with few family members to help them are the most disadvantaged” (p. 282). Finally, common property in countries with a high level of gender inequality is “a high level of violence against women and girls perpetuated by individuals, groups and the state” (Para-Mallam, 2018, p. 29). All of these effects not only harm women’s lives and limit their opportunities, but also perpetuate the inequality already present, making it more difficult to create more equal conditions.

Gender inequality is still an issue even in First World nations. Current research in developing countries allows examining its causes and ways to reduce the gap in treatment. While simple biological reasons can initially explain inequality, culture and religion can perpetuate it into modernity. However, it has been noted that advances in technology, medicine, and infrastructure act as a countermeasure, gradually shortening this gap. Effects of gender inequality can range more work and less leisure time for the disadvantaged gender to limited education and employment opportunities, to violence.

Agarwal, B. (2018). Gender inequality, cooperation, and environmental sustainability. In J-M. Baland, P. Bradhan, & S. Bowles (eds.), inequality, cooperation, and environmental sustainability (pp. 274-313). New York, NY: Princeton University Press.

Hiller, V. (2014). Gender inequality, endogenous cultural norms, and economic development. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 116 (2), 451-481.

Jayachandran, S. (2015). The roots of gender inequality in developing countries. Annual Review of Economics, 7 (1), 63-88.

Para-Mallam, F. J. (2018). Gender equality in Nigeria. In A. Örtenblad, R. Marling, & S. Vasilijević (eds.), Gender Equality in a Global Perspective (pp. 23-53). New York, NY: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. (2021, September 28). Gender Inequality as a Global Issue. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-inequality-as-a-global-issue/

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IvyPanda . "Gender Inequality as a Global Issue." September 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-inequality-as-a-global-issue/.

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UN Women Strategic Plan 2022-2025

Explainer: Sustainable Development Goal 5

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Activists, social leaders, organizations, women and men shout slogans against gender-based violence during the "Vivas nos Queremos" protest in Quito, Ecuador. Photo: UN Women/Johis Alarcon

In 2015, recognizing the global nature of challenges  like poverty, inequality and climate change, UN Member states universally adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda . Resolving to meet these matters head on, the international community set forth an ambitious vision for the future.

The Agenda encompasses three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Together, these interconnected principles form the basis of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a blueprint for progress across all areas of life.

Gender is woven throughout the SDGs as it sits at the intersection of economic, social and environmental issues. It has its own Goal, SDG 5—with the ambition of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls—and is mentioned explicitly in 10 of the other Goals.

Each SDG contains specific objectives that can be measured and tracked over time. Like a global checklist, these objectives allow us to check our progress as we approach the 2030 deadline. There are nine objectives within SDG 5, which UN Women and UNDESA take annual stock of in our Gender Snapshot report .

Learn more about these nine objectives, and find out how near—or far—we are from reaching them in 2022. 

The SDG 5 Gender Equality logo is seen outside UN Headquarters during  the opening of the 74th General Debate at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Amanda Voisard

End discrimination

Gender-based discrimination has long kept women and girls subordinate to men in the workplace, in politics and at home. In some countries such discrimination persists in the law—legally barring women, for example, from certain professions—while in others economic barriers like the gender pay gap prevent women from experiencing full equality. Ending gender-based discrimination will require laws and frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality across all areas of life .

This means equal access to employment and economic benefits, including both laws against workplace discrimination and systems in place to address violations. It means laws on violence against women—legislation specifically addressing sexual harassment, for example, or criminalizing rape within marriage. It encompasses equal rights and protections within marriage and the family, such as the right to initiate a divorce or be recognized as head of household, as well as dedicated family courts to protect such rights. And it includes equality in overarching legal frameworks like constitutions, as well as the equal right to run for and hold public office.

Though there has been notable progress in this area, the pace of legal reform is far too slow. At current rates of change, the report estimates we are 21 years from universal laws banning violence against women and a whopping 286 years from gender equality in legal frameworks.

In Lebanon in 2017,  the successful campaign to repeal article 522 made use of striking visuals of women wearing bandages as wedding dresses. Article 522 had given immunity to rapists if they married their victims. Photo Courtesy of ABAAD/Patrick Baz

End violence

Violence against women and girls, already a pervasive problem before 2020, surged in the wake of COVID-19. Many women report feeling more unsafe since the start of the pandemic: nearly 7 in 10 women (68 per cent) say that verbal or physical abuse by a partner has become more common, and 1 in 4 women describes more frequent household conflicts.

Over the past year, nearly 1 in 10 women aged 15+ (9.9 per cent) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner; for women between the ages of 15 and 49 , that figure jumps to 12.5 per cent. On global average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes.

In total, it’s estimated that 736 million women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. And given limitations in data collection, the scope of the problem is likely even larger.

Students of the Midwifery School in El Fasher, North Darfur, march to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence during an event to raise awareness in communities about gender-based violence and its implications for the lives and livelihoods of women and girls. Photo: UNAMID/Hamid Abdulsalam

End harmful practices

Practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) deprive women and girls of their agency, both reflecting and cementing their subordinate status. Marriage robs girls of their childhood, forcing them to take on the responsibilities of adult womanhood too early. It limits their futures, often preventing them from completing school. And it harms their health, putting them at heightened risk of adolescent pregnancy and its accompanying complications, as well as of domestic violence. Female genital mutilation, most often performed on children, also has serious health consequences in both the short and long term.

Child marriage remains a pervasive practice which COVID-19 threatens to exacerbate . As of 2021, nearly 1 in 5 women (19.5 per cent) aged 20-24 was married before turning 18—down from more than 1 in 4 (25.8 per cent) in 2001 but still alarmingly high. To end child marriage by 2030, the rate of change must increase by 17 times.

Progress on FGM, already too slow, also risks reversal in the face of the pandemic . Encouragingly, however, opposition to the practice appears to be gaining momentum. 2021 saw 4,475 communities make public commitments to its elimination—a 48 per cent increase from the year before.

Recognize and value unpaid work

From laundry to cooking to caring for children or the elderly, maintaining a household requires an exhaustive list of daily tasks and chores—labour that’s typically done free of charge by women and girls. This work, though essential to day-to-day life as well as to the global economy, remains largely unrecognized and unvalued.

Before 2020, women did roughly three times as much unpaid work as men on global average. Then came COVID-19, during which lockdowns drove a massive increase in the daily load of household chores and care work. School and preschool closures created an additional 672 billion hours of unpaid childcare in 2020—512 billion of which would have been shouldered by women, assuming the same division of household labour. Governments offered little support: 60 per cent of countries and territories did not take any action to ameliorate this strain.

Lightening the unpaid burden on women and girls will require two kinds of change. Traditional gender roles must give way to a redistribution of household labour, with men and boys taking responsibility for an equal share. At the same time, it’s on governments to provide better public services and social protections—such as expanded care systems and requirements for paid parental leave—that help to reduce the load on individuals. 

Jill Sparron, a Laboratory Technician with a fisheries company, picks up her son Calel from daycare. Jill's employer offers a flexible schedule which helps her manage as a single mom. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Ensure full participation in public life

Women’s equal representation in leadership matters—not only for achieving gender equality, but for making sound decisions in politics, the workplace, and every area of public life. Equal leadership ensures that diverse perspectives and voices make it to decision-making forums, a need recently underscored by COVID-19 task forces, where women’s vast underrepresentation led to crucial gaps in response and recovery plans.

This was not an aberration: women’s representation across political and economic leadership remains far from equal. At the national level, women hold just 26.4 per cent of parliamentary seats globally—and under 10 per cent of seats in 23 countries. In the economic sector, as of 2020, they hold 28.3 per cent of managerial positions, up only 0.3 per cent from 2019.

Without an increase in the rate of progress, gender parity in national parliamentary bodies won’t be reached until 2062. In the workplace things are even worse, with gender parity in management remaining 140 years away.

The outlook is better in local politics, where women hold a little over one third of seats (34.3 per cent) in local decision-making bodies. Parity here is within reach, but it will depend on the widespread implementation of gender quotas to meet the 2030 deadline.

Coumba Diaw, 48, overcame many cultural barriers to join politics. She became the only female mayor of the Sagatta Djoloff commune in the region of Louga, Senegal, which is made up of 54 other municipalities, all headed by men. Photo: UN Women/Assane Gueye

Ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights

Restricting women’s bodily autonomy is a pervasive form of patriarchal control, both at the government level and within the family. Women’s empowerment depends on the protection of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to health care and education and the right to make their own informed decisions about their bodies.

As of 2022, 76 per cent of laws needed to guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health care—including maternity care, abortion, contraception, sexual education, HPV vaccination, and HIV testing, counseling and treatment—are in place across 115 countries.

As of 2021, just over half (57 per cent) of the world’s women were able to make their own informed decisions about sex and reproduction. This means the freedom to make choices about health care and the use of contraceptives as well as to say no to sex with a husband or partner.  The backslide on women’s rights currently underway threatens to reduce this number further. 

Ensure equal economic resources

Control over economic resources is a crucial driver of women’s empowerment, providing increased security and independence and improving standards of living. Land ownership in particular helps to reduce women’s reliance on male partners or relatives and increases their access to credit.

Ensuring equal land rights, including equal inheritance rights and shared land rights within couples, is essential for the realization of the 2030 Agenda. But despite women’s relatively equal representation in agriculture—they make up roughly half of the agricultural labour force in developing countries—their equal right to land ownership is guaranteed in only four of 52 countries with data for 2019–2021.

Elena Sam Pec lives in Puente Viejo, a mostly agrarian indigenous community in Guatemala. The women of the village participate in a joint programme by UN Women, World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is empowering more than 1,600 rural women to become economically self-reliant. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Promote women’s empowerment through technology

Technology plays an ever-increasing role in the ways we learn, work and communicate, and cellphones have gone from a luxury to an essential means of connecting with the world. But for many of the world’s women, such technology—as well as the access and independence it confers—remain out of reach: based on data for 2017-2021, women are less likely than men to own a phone in 50 of 82 countries.

Sound policies and legislation

Gender equality is not going to happen on its own. We need enforceable policies and legislation at all levels of government to promote the empowerment of women and girls. Particularly in the wake of COVID-19, whose socioeconomic impacts overwhelmingly hit women harder than men, gender-sensitive policies are essential for narrowing persistent gender gaps.

This requires dedicated resources. By tracking—and making public—budget allocations toward gender equality, governments can ensure adequate financing, as well as increasing transparency and accountability. But according to data from 2018–2021, only 26 per cent of countries have comprehensive systems in place to track such allocations, and 15 per cent have no system at all.

The time to act is now

Across its nine objectives, the latest data on SDG 5 underscores just how far we are from achieving it. Despite progress on some issues, recent backslide in other areas—such as on reproductive rights and women’s economic empowerment—has put gender equality further out of reach.

Without seriously increased investments and commitments, including to gender data availability and use, SDG 5 will not be achieved by 2030 and may not be achieved at all. The time to come together as a global community and demand better—better laws and protections, better access to resources and services, and better funding—is now.

Women and girls can’t afford to wait any longer.

  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Gender data gaps
  • Gender discrimination
  • Gender equality and inequality
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Unpaid work
  • Gender-responsive budgeting
  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Economic empowerment
  • Ending violence against women and girls
  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • Innovation and technology
  • Leadership and political participation

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The 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) delivered today robust commitments by UN Member States to strengthen financing and institutions to eradicate women’s and girls’ poverty

UN Women welcomes the adoption of robust blueprint to end women’s poverty

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous delivers opening remarks at the CSW68 side event, “Multistakeholder partnership and practices to push forward for gender equality, human rights and democracy”, UN headquarters, 20 March 2024. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

Speech: We are not deterred – Let us push forward together for gender equality

Panellists at the side event on financing social protection and care systems, organized by UN Women on the margins of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Financing social protection and care systems turbocharges economies, reduces poverty

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Guest Essay

The One Idea That Could Save American Democracy

response essay about gender equality

By Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Ms. Taylor and Ms. Hunt-Hendrix are political organizers and the authors of the book “Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea.”

These days, we often hear that democracy is on the ballot. And there’s a truth to that: Winning elections is critical, especially as liberal and progressive forces try to fend off radical right-wing movements. But the democratic crisis that our society faces will not be solved by voting alone. We need to do more than defeat Donald Trump and his allies — we need to make cultivating solidarity a national priority.

For years, solidarity’s strongest associations have been with the left and the labor movement — a term invoked at protests and on picket lines. But its roots are much deeper, and its potential implications far more profound, than we typically assume. Though we rarely speak about it as such, solidarity is a concept as fundamental to democracy as its better-known cousins: equality, freedom and justice. Solidarity is simultaneously a bond that holds society together and a force that propels it forward. After all, when people feel connected, they are more willing to work together, to share resources and to have one another’s backs. Solidarity weaves us into a larger and more resilient “we” through the precious and powerful sense that even though we are different, our lives and our fates are connected.

We have both spent years working as organizers and activists . If our experience has taught us anything, it is that a sense of connection and mutualism is rarely spontaneous. It must be nurtured and sustained. Without robust and effective organizations and institutions to cultivate and maintain solidarity, it weakens and democracy falters. We become more atomized and isolated, suspicious and susceptible to misinformation, more disengaged and cynical, and easily pitted against one another.

Democracy’s opponents know this. That’s why they invest huge amounts of energy and resources to sabotage transformative, democratic solidarity and to nurture exclusionary and reactionary forms of group identity. Enraged at a decade of social movements and the long-overdue revival of organized labor, right-wing strategists and their corporate backers have redoubled their efforts to divide and conquer the American public, inflaming group resentments in order to restore traditional social hierarchies and ensure that plutocrats maintain their hold on wealth and power. In white papers, stump speeches and podcasts, conservative ideologues have laid out their vision for capturing the state and using it as a tool to remake our country in their image.

If we do not prioritize solidarity, this dangerous and anti-democratic project will succeed. Far more than just a slogan or hashtag, solidarity can orient us toward a future worth fighting for, providing the basis of a credible and galvanizing plan for democratic renewal. Instead of the 20th-century ideal of a welfare state, we should try to imagine a solidarity state.

We urgently need a countervision of what government can and should be, and how public resources and infrastructure can be deployed to foster social connection and repair the social fabric so that democracy can have a chance not just to limp along, but to flourish. Solidarity, here, is both a goal worth reaching toward and the method of building the power to achieve it. It is both means and ends, the forging of social bonds so that we can become strong enough to shift policy together.

Historically, the question of solidarity has been raised during volatile junctures like the one we are living through. Contemporary conceptions of solidarity first took form after the democratic revolutions of the 18th century and over the course of the Industrial Revolution. As kings were deposed and the church’s role as a moral authority waned, philosophers and citizens wondered how society could cohere without a monarch or god. What could bind people in a secular, pluralistic age?

The 19th-century thinkers who began seriously contemplating and writing about the idea of solidarity often used the image of the human body, where different parts work in tandem. Most famously, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim put solidarity at the center of his inquiry, arguing that as society increased in complexity, social bonds between people would strengthen, each person playing a specialized role while connected to a larger whole. Solidarity and social cohesion, he argued, would be the natural result of increasing social and economic interdependence. But as Durkheim himself would eventually recognize, the industrial economy that he initially imagined would generate solidarity would actually serve to weaken its fragile ties, fostering what he called anomie, the corrosive hopelessness that accompanied growing inequality.

In the United States, solidarity never achieved the same intellectual cachet as in Europe. Since this nation’s founding, the concept has generally been neglected, and the practice actively suppressed and even criminalized. Attempts to forge cross-racial solidarity have met with violent suppression time and again, and labor organizing, effectively outlawed until the New Deal era, still occupies hostile legal ground. Decades of market-friendly policies, promoted by Republicans and Democrats alike, have undermined solidarity in ways both subtle and overt, from encouraging us to see ourselves as individual consumers rather than citizens to fostering individualism and competition over collectivity and cooperation.

As our profit-driven economy has made us more insecure and atomized — and more susceptible to authoritarian appeals — the far right has seized its opportunity. A furious backlash now rises to cut down the shoots of solidarity that sprung up as a result of recent movements pushing for economic, racial, environmental and gender justice. In response, programs that encourage diversity and inclusion are being targeted by billionaire investors, while small acts of solidarity — like helping someone get an abortion or bailing protesters out of jail — have been criminalized.

Awaiting the return of Mr. Trump, the Heritage Foundation has mapped out a plan to remake government and society, using the full power of the state to roll back what it calls “the Great Awokening” and restore a Judeo-Christian, capitalist “culture of life” and “blessedness.” “Woke” has been turned into a pejorative so that the word can be wielded to tarnish and break the solidarity that people have only just begun to experience.

Our vision of a solidarity state offers a pointed rejoinder to this project. Social democrats and socialists have been right to emphasize the need for redistribution and robust public investment in goods and services. We must restructure our economy so that it works for the many and not the few. But unlike conservatives — think, for example, of Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Britain who in 1981 said, “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul” — liberals and leftists have tended to downplay the role of policy in shaping public sensibilities. This is a mistake.

Laws and social programs not only shape material outcomes; they also shape us, informing public perceptions and preferences, and generating what scholars call policy feedback loops. There is no neutral state to aspire to. Policies can either foster solidarity and help repair the divides that separate us or deepen the fissures.

Today, the American welfare state too often does the latter. As sociologists including Suzanne Mettler and Matthew Desmond have detailed, lower-income people tend to be stigmatized for needing assistance, while more-affluent citizens reap a range of benefits that are comparatively invisible, mainly through tax credits and tax breaks. Both arrangements — the highly visible and stigmatized aid to the poor and the more invisible and socially acceptable aid to the affluent — serve to foster resentment and obscure how we are all dependent on the state in various ways.

Instead of treating citizens as passive and isolated recipients of services delivered from on high, a solidarity state would experiment with creative ways of fostering connection and participation at every opportunity for more Americans. What if we had basic guarantees that were universal rather than means-tested programs that distinguish between the deserving and undeserving, stigmatizing some and setting groups apart? What if, following the model of a widely admired program in Canada, the government aided groups of private citizens who want to sponsor and subsidize migrants and refugees? What if public schools, post offices, transit systems, parks, public utilities and jobs programs were explicitly designed to facilitate social connection and solidarity in addition to providing essential support and services?

We’ll get there only if we take up the challenge of building solidarity from wherever we happen to sit. Both means and end, solidarity can be a source of power, built through the day-to-day work of organizing, and our shared purpose. Solidarity is the essential and too often missing ingredient of today’s most important political project: not just saving democracy but creating an egalitarian, multiracial society that can guarantee each of us a dignified life.

Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix are political organizers and the authors of the book “Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea.”

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response essay about gender equality

  • International
  • Foreign affairs

Report of the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, March 2024: UK response

Ambassador Holland responds to the report presentation by Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Neil Holland

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Firstly, I would like to welcome back Ambassador Aggeler to the Permanent Council. The United Kingdom highly appreciates the work and added value of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, including through the excellent programmes which the UK delegation witnessed on-the-ground in 2023. Thank you to you and your team for your work over the past 12 months, and for this comprehensive report.

Madam Chair, the UK strongly supports a sovereign, stable and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), making progress on its Euro-Atlantic path. We therefore condemn the secessionist rhetoric and actions of the government of the Republika Srpska. We fully support the actions taken by the High Representative in response.

The UK welcomes the progress that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made on rule of law reforms, including the passing of legislation on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. We welcome the European Commission’s support for the country’s path towards EU accession. We strongly encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians to continue to work together to pass substantial reforms which meaningfully strengthen the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

Such reforms should include improving the integrity of elections, where it is disappointing that a credible domestic solution has not yet been reached. It is vital that technical changes to the Election Law are made in sufficient time to enable implementation ahead of the October municipal elections. There were credible and widespread allegations of fraud in the 2022 general elections. Election Law changes will rebuild voters’ trust in the democratic process and ensure that the results reflect their will. The UK is pleased to support work in this area, including through funding an OSCE Mission programme to improve the integrity of electoral processes.

We welcome the OSCE Mission’s efforts and engagement on reconciliation, peace- and trust-building. We support their work on strengthening inter-ethnic relations, and in connecting communities across political and administrative divides. A more inclusive and cohesive society is essential to achieving lasting stability in BiH. We value the insight and information provided by the nine Field Offices across the country.

The UK also supports the work of the Mission to safeguard fundamental freedoms, in particular its work to improve the safety of journalists. We share the Mission’s concerns in this area. In October 2023 we instigated a Media Freedom Coalition statement on declining media freedom in BiH, signed by 25 countries.

Finally, I would like to welcome once again the Mission’s commitment to gender equality – across education, access to political life and through combatting gender-based violence. Achieving gender equality is essential to more informed thinking and policies that benefit all our populations.

Madam Chair, this remains a critical time for European security. In this context, it is vital that the international community takes a collective and coordinated approach to supporting the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina – drawing on our respective tools and strengths. The UK will remain steadfast in its commitment to work towards building a peaceful, prosperous and stable Bosnia and Herzegovina, working in the interests of its people.

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