Making Sense of Gender Equality

Equality of the Sexes

Gender Inequality

Gender equality is the idea that both men and women should have equal opportunities in life regardless of their gender. Ideally, it should be referred to as gender equity because in as much as men and women are equal in dignity, they are uniquely different. Even then, none is better than the other or deserves preferential treatment. Each gender must have an environment that enables it to fully flourish as it is. For instance a woman should never have to want to be a man in order to prosper because she feels her gender is disadvantaged in society and vice versa. In a number of cultures, the woman had been subordinated. Men had the place of honour and women had to contend with taking the second place. In some western nations women could not vote or vie for office and had no place in the public life and in developing areas like Africa, women despite engaging in so called male-jobs[1] were entitled to a life of little quality. While some gender roles like bringing up children (women), protecting and providing[2] (men) are important and complementary, some of the gender constructed roles have nothing to do with innate roles for a given gender except a furthering of patriarchal systems that subordinate women.

Women and Poverty

Poverty has a female face because women are relegated to the private sphere where no monetary value is given for the work done at home. Women are homemakers. They are primarily responsible for the care of young ones. Women give birth to and bring up babies. They are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing humanity (the most important resource for any nation) to its full development. Raising one’s children and motherhood should not spell doom for women. Nonetheless, because society is largely patriarchal, women are not able to progress career wise without having to sacrifice their motherhood because as long as a woman focuses on her family she will be poor and have no future. Women do play an important role in society and like men, they are talented. Nonetheless, it seems the only way for a woman to progress is to be torn away from her family.

The Nature of the Patriarchal Society

A patriarchal society is tuned to the nature and needs of the male or better still, is designed to work against the female. This has put the female at a disadvantage whereby in order to make it in life she has to operate as if she had a male make up. In fact the more the female loses her womanhood and hates her fertility, the better her chance at being successful in life. Considering the nature of the patriarchal society one might see where this response emanates from but this does not address the problem of inequality faced by the woman.

Contraception an Equalizer between Men and Women?

As a result there has been an obsession with ‘reproductive rights’ that ensure women have everything at their disposal to deal with the menace that is their fertility. Contraception is handy as it enables women to determine when and how many children to have and perhaps more important, to be able (like men) to have sex without consequences. Fertility suppression (contraception) does not work in tandem with the woman’s body and often than not this affects her health wise. Worse still, if a woman finds herself pregnant while not ready, she opts to choose to abort or rather murder her baby in order to pursue her life’s ambition. The baby becomes a burden that gives her no monetary value and adds to her misery. The woman who is the custodian of life and who by nature is entrusted to care for young human offspring ironically becomes the one to murder them through abortive procedures that prevent further development of a foetus while still in the womb. She must murder her young ones in order to afford a better future for herself and have the same opportunities as the human male. This is done at the early stages where the growing life within her has not yet been seen by the eyes of man; a situation where it becomes easy to label a human in the early development stages as mere ‘tissue’.

Radical Methods of Achieving Equality between the Sexes

On the extreme hand there has been the push to enable humanity to choose their sex/gender. This can be attributed to the fact that being born a woman is presumed to be an unlucky state. The assumption behind this is that the human person should be able to choose his/her gender and not be locked in one gender without choice. Indeed, the ultimate notion of gender equality has been the idea that a woman can choose to be a man and a man can choose to be a woman. This gravitates to a condition in society where there gender fluidity and where there can be no distinction (gender neutrality) between the sexes and gender roles are non-existent much to the detriment of society and much so for women. If women will not have babies, will men be able to or will babies be manufactured in the laboratory? Perhaps the latter, and massive dehumanization to go with it. Legalised abortion, increased access to contraception and liberalised sexuality come at the expense of maintaining a stable human resource. The above combination as a remedy to achieve women’s rights and gender equality produce a reduction in population, no wonder the use of gender equality and women’s rights as euphemisms for population control by certain quarters.

The Best Approach in Achieving Gender Equality

In some select nations such as Sweden, France and Germany[3], some effort has been made to make room for the female at the workplace and have in place policies that make it easier for her to balance work and family. Gender mainstreaming should not be reduced to a matter of ridding women of their fertility but on empowering them to be able to have children and take care of them while at the same time still being able to have successful careers. It should not focus on destroying God-made gender and the roles that come with it but on the man-made inequalities. It must focus on deconstructing the patriarchal structures in society and having a good balance that is beneficial to both men and women and society.

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[1] In many African communities, women worked in farms and even thatched houses. Among the Maasai, women would build the Manyattas (Mud houses).
[2] Here, providing should not be viewed in monetary terms like bringing home the bacon but in creating the right conditions so that both men and women are able to undertake economic activity without any hindrance so that the family and society can thrive.
[3] See The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies at Columbia University. Available at: http://www.childpolicyintl.org
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