Gender equality has evolved from an ideology during the time of the famed Rosa Parks to a massive human rights movement today. The movement that took the world by storm has borne many fruits, and society has made clear progress in this aspect. The significant achievements in this field and the widespread acknowledgement of gender equality have led to a slowing down of the once fervent race. The reducing number of protests, placard marches and campaigns has raised doubts in the minds of many. Perhaps, today, in a world as developed as the one we live in, gender equality and the fight for it is no longer important. They are wrong. Gender equality, and the fight for it, is still, if not more, important today, than it was in the past.
Indeed, the fight for gender equality has won many battles. The suffrage movement won rights for women all across the globe. It had not only increased the value of women in society, it did the same to a woman‟s sense of self-worth. The suffrage movement revealed many injustices and sought rectification and compensation. It demanded equal playing fields for both sexes, sending ripples through the many patriarchal societies, brought education to women, a right now largely recognized, and allowed women to contribute to society. It raised a woman‟s status, esteem and notion of self-worth.
The fight also showed considerable results in the working world, which was largely dominated by males. The fight for gender equality has decimated glass ceilings in jobs across the spectrum, allowing women to take on higher societal or organizational positions. It awarded women equal opportunities, with many companies now functioning on the system of meritocracy. Today, more than 30% of high position jobs are occupied by women, compared to less than 2% in the 80s.
In the political arena, a once largely male-dominated as well, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton are among the few women charging head-on into a once foreign field. Hilary Clinton ran against Barack Obama in the Democratic elections in 2008, matching him state-to-state until the end. Clinton is a stellar example of how women can contribute more than their two cents worth. Despite losing to Obama, Clinton continues to stay in the political game, aiding the Democratic representative in the Presidential Elections against John McCain. The fight for gender equality has opened up many doors, managing to even allow women to take a slice of the political pie.
The success of the fight is apparent. However, today, many are questioning if maybe enough doors have been opened for women, and whether the importance of the fight has disappeared. This may ring true for developed countries, but for developing countries which are still far lacking in resources, and the courage to take on an idea seen as absurd to some, or dangerous to others, women are still at the losing end. It is only because the developed countries refuse to acknowledge this fact that it appears as if the fight for gender equality has outlived its welcome.
In strict Muslim societies such as Afghanistan and Iran, backward traditions and mentalities hinder the countries’ growth. In the former, statistics have shown that less than 10% of the reported cases of rape have received justice. Ridiculous clauses, such as requiring at least two adult male witnesses willing to support the rape claim, prevent many cases from even gaining access to a court hearing. This injustice has long plagued the country, with little being done to rectify it. However, this problem is also the reason for Afghanistan’s uncivilized laws, which prevent it from gaining a good standing on the international level. This could lead to a stagnant economy, or even worse, a stagnant economy trapped in the dogmatic principles of the past.
In the economic domain, developed countries are no exceptions. The perception that a male has more value than a female runs deep in countries like India and China. Both countries are, today, facing an imbalanced sex ratio, that of China being one female to every 1.6 males. In China‟s case, the one-child policy is the main culprit. Set during revolutionary days, the one-child policy allows each family to have onlyone child, or two, in special cases. While this was done to combat the problem of a population growing faster than its country could support, it has brought along with it many problems. In both countries, infanticide ranks high on the causes of infant deaths. The desire for a more valuable male offspring has led to increased abortion rates and cases of baby girls being abandoned. The imbalance in the sex ratio also has many serious repercussions. It has been linked to increased crime rates, with men unable to find a bride, resorting to kidnapping, buying or trafficking women to fulfill their needs for companionships or carnal desires. A largely unmarried society could ironically lead to the downfall of the family unit, a component of society valued by Asians. High migration rates could lead to a drastic fall in the working population, in turn resulting in a weakened economy.
It is age-old out-dated views, captured in equally old saying such as “Eighteen goddess-like daughters are not equal to one son with a hump‟, that still call for the fight for gender equality to continue. Statistics like that fact that women make up 60%of South Korean graduates but constitute less than 25% of the working force only compound the problem. Crusaders of this mission have yet to fully spread their message, with only larger communities benefiting. Besides the fact that the ‘cease-fire’ could bring repercussions such as the ones faced by China and India, the fight for gender equality is also, above all, a stunning example of human spirit. Just like the heart-warming stories of Chinese natives who went out of their way to help their fellow men after the Sichuan earthquake, the fight for gender equality tore social theories, such as social Darwinism, to bits. It displays human compassion in a dog-eat-dog world, where the more fortunate gives to their less fortunate counterparts. Philosophers like Charles Darwin believed that Man is born selfish. The continued fight for gender equality proves otherwise.
In conclusion, gender equality, and the fight for it, is still very important today. It will help to level unequal playing fields, giving women a voice and a place in society. It will display the full capacity of the human spirit, with both men and women, spanning the various races, jobs and social standing, joining in the biggest human rights movement of all time.