10 ways you can help close the gender gap today

The conversation surrounding gender inequality in the majority of the western world is hard to avoid. In recent years women have come together fighting harder than ever for their right to be seen and treated as equal to their male counterparts.

Gender inequality is defined as a social process by which people are treated differently and disadvantageously, under similar circumstances, on the basis of gender. Ingrained in societies all over the world, it manifests in many different forms. Some examples of gender inequality against women are:

  • unequal pay

  • sexual harassment

  • lack of education

  • violence, sexual assault and rape

  • economic dependency

  • lack of representation in government

  • reduced access to healthcare

Historians believe that the societal construct of gender inequality against women began to form around 8000 years ago. It was around this time that we abandoned the nomad life in exchange for building agriculture settlements. It is no wonder that we face many obstacles, setbacks and backlash fighting for the opposition of something that has been learnt and accepted for thousands of years.

Fast-forward to today, in more progressive countries, women have freedom of speech, can take to the streets in protest and can challenge governments. In the developed world, many women are lucky enough to have the education, confidence and support from the men in their lives to confront gender inequality issues that exist in our society.

Through challenging cultural and social norms, we can get closer to eradicating gender inequality. Here are 10 ways you can reduce the gender gap as you go about your daily life...

Listen to women and girls...

What are their experiences? What have they lived through? Where does gender inequality show up in their lives? Through listening and reflecting we can learn how to move forward in the fight for gender equality. By providing support and creating a safe space for women and girls to talk, we open the conversation wider and can challenge it further.

Volunteer or donate to an NGO who fights for female empowerment...

You can support an organisation that fights for gender equality. NGOs rely on donations and volunteers to carry out their missions. Many are fighting all over the world to help women and young girls fight against injustice and gender inequality that surrounds them.

Women supporting other women...

When women support other women great things can happen. We should be supporting one another and never tearing each other down. Celebrate the success of women that surround you, be kind and compassionate. Never compare yourself to another woman, we are all in this together. We can't fight gender inequality if we are fighting amongst ourselves.

Support women in power...

One way to overcome systemic barriers against women and their success is to increase participation by women in local, regional and national legislation as well as women in business. We can also support women who want to work in “non-traditional” fields such as politics, science and sport. This helps to break societal taboos and is crucial for lasting change.

Support the right to girls education...

Without proper education, young women and girls will find it hard to break away from the gender imbalance that exists in their societies. This is especially true for girls in the developing world. In many countries across the globe, girls are not seen as important to educate. Therefore they will never have the opportunity to forge a life for themselves, gain financial freedom and escape from dangerous circumstances such as sexual exploitation, human trafficking and child marriages.

Speak out against misogynistic behaviour and comments...

Don’t remain silent when you see or hear misogyny. Scold sexist remarks, adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards belittling behaviour against women. Refuse to buy into chauvinistic attitudes. These behaviours only perpetuate the societal “norms” we are trying to destroy.

Share household chores and childcare equally...

Household chores and childcare should be shared equally between men and women. The UN reported that the majority of these responsibilities are still undertaken by women. Women in developing countries do an average of 2 hours daily extra unpaid work (childcare and household tasks) than men. In developed countries, the average is 3 hours more. Ask yourself, do I contribute equally to childcare and the maintenance of my household?

Look for signs of gender violence...

Unfortunately, gender violence is happening all around us in every community. Examples of gender-based violence are; child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking for sex or slavery, intimate partner violence, physical punishment and sexual, emotional or psychological violence. It can be a very difficult and potentially dangerous subject to approach. If you suspect that someone may be suffering from gender-based violence, offer your support and encourage them to report it. The UN reports that globally, 137 women are killed by a member of their family every day. We have an obligation to protect and speak up for those who cannot.

Have zero-tolerance towards sexual harassment...

No one should be subject to sexual harassment, but yet is reported that in their lifetime 81% of women will have experienced some form of sexual harassment compared to 43% of men. There is research claiming that these numbers are increasing. If you see or hear of sexual harassment, it is not something we should accept or tolerate. The majority of sexual harassment cases are not reported, male or female, we must speak out and report it.

Demand equal pay for equal work...

Support initiatives that demand equal pay for women. Have a look around your workplace, don't be afraid to challenge and ask questions. Are you getting paid the same as your male colleague? As a male colleague, are you being paid more than your female counterpart? Make people in your organisation aware that there is a gender pay gap if it exists. Men and women can come together to demand better and more from their employer.

It is a long and tiresome fight, and we still have a long way to go. But with more women finding their voices, more women in powerful positions and the help of charities and NGOs, the future looks bright for establishing gender equality.

Women Going Beyond is an NGO who is challenging gender inequality in south-east Asia. Empowering women through education so they have the opportunity to escape the injustice that surrounds. For young women in south-east Asia, they are fighting gender inequality on a daily basis. Many are not seen as important to educated therefore they end up assuming the role of “caretaker” in the household, are sold into modern slavery or are victims of child marriage.

Help us, help them in their right for education and become a volunteer today, or make a donation.

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