The gender equality conversation must start at home

This piece was written for International Women’s Day, 2020. 

Gender equality is not just a concept, nor is it a mere obligation. It is a human right. 

Gender Equality is No. 5 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

However, there are still parts of society who like to believe that gender equality is just a mere concept that they are obligated to nod a long to because they don’t want to be controversial.

​Not only is gender equality a human right, it is a benefit to society- economically, socially and politically. It hurts to see that there are very few people who are truly passionate and excited to work towards gender equality and this lack of interest does seem to stem from stigma around ‘feminism’ and the lack of awareness around the benefits of a gender-equal society.

So this International Women’s Day, I propose that rather than just celebrating for the sake of celebrating and discussing the importance of equality with a select few women who ‘understand’ what you are talking about, let’s sit down with our families (with both men and women, with both children and adults) and talk about gender equality and what it means to each of you. Let’s talk about the importance of gender equality and make small achievable goals in what we can each do to enable a more gender balanced world.

This International Women’s Day, I have decided to share with my family and friends how important gender equality is to me because as Julia Guillard, past Prime Minister, wisely said ‘gender equality is not just a women’s issue- it’s good for men too.’ I want to specifically discuss how gender equality is not only important morally and ethically, but how it is also a predictor and precursor to peace, and has boundless economic benefits.

Julia Gillard, first female Prime Minister of Australia. Courtesy: Shutterstock.

While information such as a nation’s economic development, level and system of democracy or religious identity is often used to predict how peaceful a nation is, gender equality is the most reliable and accurate precursor and predictor to peace. This is because facilitating a society that encourages and thrives based on equality between men and women means that power is created and used collectively- there is no one person, no one group or no one community that holds all the power. Once a society moves away from having one group with all the power and the power balance is more even, they are much more likely to have a stable government and political system. Having a stable government means that the nation is far more likely to operate peacefully and thoughtfully within international forums. They are more likely to agree and comply with international norms and treaty agreements. Nations with more empowered women are also less likely to resort to military force, use violence as a first response in conflict dissolving situations and engage in interstate disputes.

In a world with as treacherous of a geopolitical climate as today, ensuring that governments across the globe are thinking clearly, wisely, and in the best interest of their people when representing their nation is of utmost importance. If gender equality can enforce these measures, why are we not striving harder to achieve it?

Gender equality has many social and economic benefits.

Apart from the fact that gender equality enforces and predicts peace for nations around the world, equality between men and women also means billions of dollars of revenue increase and diversity in ideas and perspectives in the workplace.

If the gender employment gap in Australia was to be closed, Australia’s GDP would increase by 11%. If women were supported and encouraged in transitioning from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men, the economy would gain $8 billion.

Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world.

Tian Wei

In a society that is hungry for fresh ideas, new perspectives and diverse opinions, it is almost unbelievable that we are not encouraging and supporting women who are in the workforce or are hoping to enter the workforce in a more meaningful way. The statistics are there- that embracing women as equal partners within the workforce would bring more revenue, and thus more money to spend on infrastructure, defense, healthcare and education.

It is said that working mothers have equivalent to at least 2.5 full-time jobs

Some may say that there are already plenty of women in the workforce. Why do we need more? The fact is, that yes, there are women in the workforce who are contributing to their respective industry by giving their diverse opinions, thoughts and views. However, recent statistics have shown that one in two Australian mothers experience workplace discrimination as a result of their pregnancy and parental leave and one in five are made redundant or their contracts just aren’t renewed. In what world is it okay to make a woman choose between her family and her career? Are men made to do the same?

A poll conducted in 2018 shows that only two thirds of Australians believe that ‘achieving equality between men and women is important to them personally’. When gender equality is a precursor and predictor of peace, and so beneficial for the economy, shouldn’t we be working harder to achieve gender equality?

The slogan for International Women’s Day 2020 was ‘an equal world is an enabled world’.

So let’s spend this International Women’s Day (and every day henceforth until gender equality is achieved) educating our friends, our sisters, our brothers, our husbands, our wives, our sons and our daughters about gender equality and its importance. Past United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower once said ‘motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it’. So together, one little step at a time, one person at a time, and one argument at a time, let’s begin educating those around us about the benefits of gender equality. Let’s motivate them to join in our mission to achieve true equality between the sexes because an equal world is an enabled world. 

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