Nowadays,  gender equity is understood to be a crucial issue for societies and cultures worldwide which are mostly prescribed as “underdeveloped societies”. In these discriminatory contexts , due to the strong impact of patriarchy, women’s condition is characterized by a lack of socio-political representation and the denial of fundamental rights leading to varying forms of violence such as Gender Based Violence/Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV/SGBV), which have been defined by the international community as drastic and severe crimes against humanity. The United Nations and its agencies have frequently raised alarm bells upon member States with the aim of making them conscious of the unbearable discriminatory conditions of women and girls in many contexts , by stressing that:” Gender equality is a fundamental human rights to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development”. We are aware that Gender Equality was made part of international human rights law by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. However, this principle has not been upheld in letter and spirit.

Which countries have the highest rate of discrimination against women?

There has always appeared an acute difference in the treatment of women between the West and the East side of the world. While many Nations have shown a considerable openness to gender equality over the years, there exist certain cultural norms that restrict women from enjoying complete expression of their fundamental rights ( that include political, social and economic ones). On the podium of underrepresentation some nations are worth recalling, namely Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq, followed by Pakistan, Syria and other Sub-Saharan countries. According to the latest research conducted by the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, three key factors must be taken into consideration to clearly understand how gender equity is still a dogmatic topic in many countries: Inclusion, security and justice. The consequences of gender inequality are clearly dramatic, bringing a negative impact on women’s well-being from both social and economic points of view. Women suffer from isolation and acute stigmatization from their community only for the sake of their gender; this factor leads to a high rate of illiteracy among girls and women along with the high prevalence of school dropout along with tragic future rejection from any job position due to the lack of necessary skills and culture. It is necessary to remind that Women’ rights need to be based on prescriptions by the CEDAW convention ( article 10) which mandates provision of efficient education on part the respective state without any form of discrimination . However these requirements, (particularly in the Middle-East and Sub-Saharan Africa), the educational and financial gap between men and women is substantial.

To have a clear idea we take the example of In Chad where only 13% of women are literate compared to 31.3% of men. The same is true in Guinea, where 22% of women are literate compared to 43.6% of men.

What about women ‘s jobs opportunities?

It is necessary to emphasize the discrepancy that many women experience in the working context compared to men. Nowadays all women (as the CEDAW convention prescribed in article11) must have the freedom and right to be a key actor in the working context . Despite of the constant efforts shown by the International Community to stress the importance of gender equity achievement, this topic is still a matter of debate. The latest complaints have been made towards Iran, India, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. Women’s ability to work on par with men rarely translating into equal wages, thus provoking underrepresentation in the labor market. Participating in labor markets has been an important channel for economic empowerment for women and has contributed towards building diverse, inclusive and innovative organizations. Beyond inequality of access to labor force opportunities, financial disparities continue to be a major area of concern for working women and their dependents. Moreover, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment opportunities for women declined drastically. According to UNCTAD latest data, The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on both women’s and men’s employment ,but at different stages of the crisis due to the gender-induced stratification of economic activities in many countries. UNCTAD analysis shows that early measures to curb the spread of the virus first hit jobs predominantly held by women, such as personal services. At the outset of the pandemic, a higher prevalence of the virus correlated with a higher rate of female unemployment Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. This, among other factors, means that women’s employment is dropping faster than average, even if we account for the fact that women and men work in different sectors. Therefore, addressing normative and legal barriers for women to work and advance remains a priority area for policymakers and businesses in all countries.

What steps should be taken to clearly change the situation?

Many relevant initiatives have been launched by various local and international NGO’s to ensure women’s representation. Recently, UN Women launched Generation Equality Forum, which is a global movement for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. The Forum brings together governments, corporations, NGOs, youth-led groups and Foundations to secure concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments for gender equality. For many activists and politicians, the key to the real change lies in educating society to understand the powerful role women have and need to play; to empower themselves and to contribute actively to the development of societies. promoting Education and open-mindedness takes time, especially in patriarchal societies. Dialogue too plays a crucial role in breaking down social barriers . A constructive dialogue would clearly promote understanding by communities in acknowledging greater roles for women and thus equity in the longer run. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind. Achieving gender equity and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we can aspire to get justice and inclusivity, thus sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

By Greta Barbera

Greta obtained her master’s degree in international relations. Her goal is to pursue an international career and work closely with the United Nations and its agencies to protect human rights.

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