Recently I was asked by students to audition for the TEDxYouth event they are putting together under the theme of ‘What if…’After critically reasoning, I decided to pick a topic close to my heart, gender equality. I framed my question ‘What if we taught gender equality?’ By teaching about gender equality we can aim to achieve it.
What impact would gender equality have? By gender equality, I mean equal opportunities. Imagine if women had equal opportunities in all aspects of life. A bit of research helped to answer this question and the results were astounding!
The Power of Parity: Women’s equality can add $28 trillion to global growth! If women participated in the job market the same way as men then US$ 28 trillion could be added to the global Gross Domestic Product in the next decade. If the next decade sounds too far, let’s see some present-day data. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 865 million women in the world have the potential to contribute more fully to their economies, for example, the Asia-Pacific region would make $89 billion a year if women had equal job opportunities. (Copyright © McKinsey & Company 2015)
So to begin answering the What if…question, just by including women in the workforce the world can get rid of poverty.
The World’s Largest Inequality: According to the statistics published by the United Nations (UN) 1 in 5 women experienced violence in the hands of a man they know; Global gender pay gap is stuck at 16%; 12 million girls are married below the age of 18. These are only some statistics, furthermore, decisions being made for women, are not been made by them; 75% of parliamentarian are men, 73% of managerial decision-makers are men, 67% climate negotiators are men, 87% of people at the peace table are men. This proves that one of the world’s largest inequality is Gender inequality! (Copyright © United Nations 2020)
Once again to answer the ‘what if’ question, we would solve the world’s largest injustice.
Further what if we taught gender equality: We would achieve success in resolving world issues. What if women had gender equality is almost like asking for permission, and this permission has to come from us, women. This all starts by educating our students to work towards a gender-balanced society as gender equality is the answer to all our current world issues.
Our economic potential would be doubled, more people would have jobs, which would bring equality in many realms of society due to reduced economic insecurity and reduced poverty. There would be better socio-economic progress as the world would be better balanced with men and women, dualism and monism, yin and yang, enthalpy and entropy and in machine language binary off and on!
The world would be a peaceful place, as per statistics from the UN, 87% men sit on the peace table and we have only seen war in the past five decades, if only we change the statistics by 10% there would be better negotiation and meaningful decision making for keeping world peace. A recent example is the of superior decision making and impactful action by women to the COVID19 pandemic; most countries that handled this crisis well had women leaders like Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern and Tsai Ing-wen.
Our planet would be greener and would age slower, as clearly, the climate negotiations have not been effective. In spite of great will and united efforts from leaders of the world, where 67% were men, the collapse of the planet is becoming a reality. This has to be stopped and one way to do so is to give women equal opportunity to make important decisions. If Greta Thunberg in her teens can make such an impact imagine what our girls and women can do for this planet, if, given an opportunity.
Unconscious biases that become invisible enemies like racism could be addressed if women had more opportunity in the parliament. Clearly, a less than 30% representation in the parliaments of the different countries has only led to promoting discriminating based on sex, color and creed; exploiting religious beliefs for electoral gains; and changing women rights instead of changing the systems.
We are a world where female genital mutilation is a current practice; where women and girls cannot make decisions about their own bodies both sexual and non-sexual; where culture, religion, rules and policies justify segregation of women and prevent them from achieving their full potential and the world’s full potential. We have to teach equality for women and for women rights.
In summary, if there was gender equality, there would be an equal, greener and more peaceful world!