Accelerating the Gender Equality Agenda - Progress Barriers and Actions - Seeker's Thoughts

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Accelerating the Gender Equality Agenda - Progress Barriers and Actions

 Accelerating gender equality generates substantial economic benefits. Gender equality is central to realizing the 2030 Agenda's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo by Magda Ehlers

Investing in gender equality helps economies recover faster from crises and build resilience against future threats. To do this, it requires acknowledging women's rights and responsibilities, better data collection methods, and gender-responsive policymaking processes.

1. Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Women and girls must be empowered to exercise their rights, take charge of their lives, assume leadership roles and influence decision-making processes in their households, communities and societies. This requires ending gender-based violence (GBV) while encouraging equitable gender norms.

Unfortunately, many workplaces still fail to appreciate the abilities of women and are biased against them. Such discrimination includes redundancy, sexism, harassment, stereotyping and making jokes about them. Such discrimination must stop; companies can promote gender equality by adopting a Gender Equality Policy with comprehensive anti-harassment provisions and ensured strict anti-harassment procedures are in place.

As women enter professional positions, they can often experience "motherhood bias", where managers assume they will leave work due to family obligations when having children. This stereotype creates the perception that women won't stay long in their job resulting in reduced performance and retention rates as well as burnout occurring more frequently among female employees compared to men - which in turn negatively affects career advancement.

Empowerment in the workplace for women includes having control of their personal lives, such as how they spend their time and money. This includes making decisions regarding balancing professional with personal lives as well as whether to remain in current jobs. Furthermore, women must have equal access and control of economic, social, political, legal cultural physical resources.

The World Bank Group is committed to accelerating gender equality. To do this, we support innovative advocates, provide evidence, and leverage our expertise to enhance services and assist more people. Among other measures we are increasing focus on gender dimensions of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) while conducting more research that informs operations as well as incorporating behavioral insights into our operations.

2. Gender Inequality in Education

Education is central to closing the gender gap, yet significant barriers still stand in its way. Too many girls are denied access to quality education due to poverty, child marriage and conflict-induced displacement; and these challenges become compounded for vulnerable groups like rural areas or those living with disabilities. Gender equality in education calls for an integrated solution that addresses these obstacles while supporting girls to stay in school and realize their full potential.

Gender equity in education can be measured using various metrics, including gender parity and equality goals. Gender parity goals typically involve setting an equal ratio of boys to girls for certain aspects of schooling such as enrollment or participation; equality goals take a more comprehensive approach and focus on rights for both genders to equal opportunities and results. Both goals play an essential role in creating more gender equitable societies, yet neither are equivalent.

Inclusive education entails creating an environment in which all students feel safe and valued, including providing cultural and language support, accommodating for those with disabilities, and combatting discriminatory attitudes against girls. Schools can work alongside families and communities to support girls' education by working together on providing children with all of the resources required for attending school.

The Foundation strives to accelerate progress toward gender parity by identifying and dismantling barriers preventing women and girls from exercising their bodily autonomy, prioritizing health and well-being, earning and managing their own money, choosing when or if to have children, participating fully in homes, economies and societies, while simultaneously expanding and reinvigorating global cross-sector movements. We support governments in fulfilling commitments made while simultaneously expanding and reinvigorating movements from across sectors globally.

3. Gender Inequality in Health Care

Health encompasses more than the absence of disease; it involves one's physical, mental, social and economic wellbeing. Gender inequality in health outcomes can have detrimental consequences for both women and men alike, impeding both on achieving their full potential in life.

Gender equality is central to ensuring a well-functioning health care system. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), roughly three quarters of health sector employees are female; yet they continue to earn less than their male colleagues even when accounting for factors such as age and experience.

Healthcare workplaces are notoriously susceptible to gender-based bias. According to various studies, when diagnosing and treating patients, health professionals can often exhibit bias against female patients by presuming they don't suffer as badly as men do.

Gender equality in health includes access to reproductive and sexual rights that are essential for women and their families' wellbeing. In order to enable women to make informed choices about their lives, protecting legal access to abortion as well as other forms of safe contraception is vitally important; additionally it must ensure health workers receive training and support necessary to provide services in an equitable fashion.

Reducing gender disparity in healthcare requires both dedication and action. This may involve supporting laws, policies, budgets and institutions that support gender equality as well as investing more heavily in gender statistics collection (only half the necessary data is currently collected). Furthermore, training healthcare professionals to recognize and counter implicit bias and provide patients with education on how certain conditions may manifest differently between genders is also key.

4. Gender Inequality in the Family

Girls and boys experience gender inequality every day in their homes, schools, and communities. Segregated household work reinforces that men and women should assume distinct roles; parents' interactions with their children also play a significant role; for instance if they encourage gendered toys, sports, rough play or assign specific chores between boys and girls this will likely affect how the kids view gender roles in society.

Women tend to lack economic independence compared to men and are under-represented in leadership positions in businesses, governments and other institutions. This may be the result of discrimination or inequality at work as well as family obligations taking precedence over work commitments. By taking steps to increase economic independence for women through family farming initiatives or supporting other means, it may help reduce poverty and inequality as well as expand economic development and promote social progress.

Gender equality would enable more efficient decision-making on issues such as birth spacing and timing, health services access and recourse to harmful practices such as female genital cutting. But gender equality goes beyond increasing opportunities for women and girls; it empowers all people to break through restrictive stereotypes that limit them.

We must intensify efforts to ensure accountability for existing gender commitments, secure transformative new commitments and expand and energize global cross-sector movements for equality. To do so effectively will require sustained efforts over the next four years to break through barriers and turn promises into real progress - including building a stronger gender perspective throughout the United Nations system and increasing its capacity to deliver on its agenda for women and girls' futures.

5. Gender Inequality in Politics

Gender equality in politics is one of the world's greatest challenges, yet an essential component of sustainable development as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Global leaders have called for urgent action to realize this important goal of gender equality - so women and girls have equal access to economic resources and political power that enable them to exercise their rights freely and fully.

Progress on this front has been mixed, yet some countries have made significant strides forward when it comes to female representation. Mexico leads in terms of both parliamentary and ministerial gender balance (22.8 percent respectively), while Canada has made great strides since Justin Trudeau became PM and now ranks 19th worldwide for female representation in government.

But many obstacles remain, including that women remain less likely than men to vote or support parties addressing gender inequality issues, as well as experiencing intimate partner violence which prevents them from taking an active part in politics and public life.

Politics and institutions can take many measures to promote gender equality, from ensuring at least 40 percent of parliamentarians are female to instituting recruitment quotas in political parties for government posts, as well as encouraging ad hoc bodies that share best practices on how best to implement policies and programs promoting this ideal in political systems.

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