Gender inequality has been an inevitable problem for a while now. Whether it’s in schools, offices, colleges or even the media, it is everywhere, and putting a stop to it is an even bigger problem for us. Laws help reduce the cases of gender discrimination but they don’t eradicate it completely – for that we have to start changing the way people think, speak, learn and act. A lot of organisations are working towards having a non-discriminatory world, which we should support.
Gender discrimination affects both male and female. Granted, most discriminatory cases are towards the fairer sex, but there are cases that affect men too. There have been instances where gender discrimination has occurred but not in a large scale, yet it still affects the individual going through that it and the law is unable to step in, in the case of such minor incidents. For example, in school if a boy is teased about behaving in a ‘girly’ way or if a girl is told repeatedly that she cannot do something because only ‘boys’ do it, it isn’t classified as illegal. People usually shrug it off, except it becomes a way of life and people accept that they aren’t supposed to do that or act in a certain way, thanks to a conservative and close minded society. Gender discrimination doesn’t only occur in a few places, it’s a problem all around the world. Even though there are many laws against raping women, abortions of fetuses, sex slaves, etc. laws are not always followed and the culprit sometimes is never found. There are many cases where it hasn’t even been reported until we find the person dead due to these things. There are statistics showing that 98% of human trafficking for sexual exploitation cases are female. There have been so many cases where there are laws
(Article 42 in The Constitution Of India 1949 — 42. Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief) against it but it still occurs, which shows that we should be doing more than just leaving it in the hands of the law. There are cases where 130 million girls were genitally mutilated in Africa and Yemen, and 5,000 women in India suffer female infanticide each year due to not enough dowry payment.
The gender inequality index under the section of ‘Labour force participation rate’ states that, women in each country have less participation which shows the inequality in the world today. The GII also shows the ‘Share of seats in parliament by women’ and the statistics are not very impressive. There are some countries that have 0% of women that have their seats in the parliament, which to think is pretty sad and extremely discriminatory between men and women. Considering the parliament plays a big role when it comes to discussing legal remedies, if the government itself isn’t promoting gender equality, how can it be trusted to solve other problems regarding gender discrimination. Furthermore there are countries that do not allow women to drive, vote, travel, get educated, etc. If we abide by these laws and legal systems, (for example, the law in Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive or the law in The Vatican City where women aren’t allowed to vote) there is no equality, justice and freedom for a woman. Moreover there are flaws even in the legal system which promote gender inequality even among the government officials, where they don’t give particular positions to women in government offices or high posts. Women in most countries don’t hold as many seats men in parliament, which is a sign of gender inequality, again promoting discrimination between men and women in the legal system.
United Nations is working to promote gender equality not only in some countries but globally, but still there are countries that have very close minded thoughts that bring them back to conservative mindset of women not being allowed to drive, educate themselves, etc. There are some countries that have laws which are based on religious doings/acts. Recently there was a protest by many women in Maharashtra outside a temple as “it was a black day for women” which enraged women and they wanted to break into the temple. Here is where religion comes in, even though the women were coming to pray, they weren’t allowed due to ‘religious reasons’. There are thousands of women being raped, tortured and undermined due to the mindset of these conservative people and laws are doing nothing, they exist but are hardly ever being followed.
In India there some barbaric laws against women, for instance the rape of a separated wife’s punishment is lesser than an ordinary rape. Why does it matter if she is a separated wife or not, rape is rape. Another law called ‘The Goa law of Polygamy’ states that ‘A law recognises the second marriage of a “Gentile Hindu” man of Goa if his previous wife does not have any children before the age of 25 or if she does not have a male child by 30.” At the same time, it isn’t only women that have been a victim of gender inequality, men have too.
There have been ridiculous laws against men – for, instance only men are prosecuted for adultery, as stated under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, if a husband commits adultery with the wife of another man, he can be prosecuted but if a woman does the same with the wife of another man it isn’t applicable to her. If a man of under the age of 16 has ‘consensual’ sex with a girl the same age, he is stated by the law, a rapist.
If we want to change the world we have to start from the bottom, dig up the roots and encourage people to alter mindsets and look beyond the conservative society we live in. It starts with one person and goes on to rest of the world. On a local scale, it still hasn’t changed much from previous years. Maharashtra comes in third for crimes against women and the statistics show that 2.45 lakh cases were registered under crime against women and minor girls in 2014. 31,251 cases were registered in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 27,574 in Madhya Pradesh. Six cases of ‘buying minor girls for prostitution’ were registered in Maharashtra. Despite the Female Infanticide Prevention Act’, 1870, the number of female births is still decreasing in Maharashtra. Due to the reduction of the number of female births, there have been social and economic constraints in India. But complicated cultural beliefs make these rules and regulations hard to be seen whenever and wherever followed.
Being a girl myself, I have grown up in a society where people undermine girls and women, but since the start of the 21st century things are changing. Women are standing up for themselves, helping themselves be someone or something in this world. Feminists are all around the world trying to make a change. A major example would be Malala Yousafzai, who got shot in the head because she raised her voice and stood up for her right to education.
There are some things that are only achievable by changing mindsets and embedding liberalism in people’s thought process. Feminism isn’t about bringing women to power, but to bringing people’s views about men and women to be equal. The world shouldn’t be overpowered by one gender. “Gender equality isn’t a woman’s issue, it is a human issue. It affects all of us” – Anonymous