Gender Inequality: Concept and Pervasiveness
Author: Bhuvan Deepak
III Year | Geetam School of Law, Vishakhapatnam
All children should have equal opportunities to survive and prosper. However, in today’s world, gender inequality and discrimination persist, depriving children of their childhood and limiting their opportunities, and creating a disproportionate impact on the globe. This unequal treatment also takes away from a nation its energy and skills to advance.
Researchers estimate that it will take over 200 years to attain gender equality given the current rate of change. That is unacceptable. Together, from the very beginning, if we as a society work together, can construct an equitable world.
Gender refers to the qualities and possibilities associated with being male or female in economic, social, and cultural terms. Being a man or a woman in most civilizations is not just a question of distinct biological and physical qualities. Men and women confront distinct demands of dressing, behaving, or working. Gender, therefore, varies from sex by being more socio-cultural than biological in origin.
Gender Inequality – The Concept:
To understand gender inequality we have to first understand what exactly gender discrimination is. Gender discrimination is any uneven treatment meted out based on gender, including privilege and priority.
We can understand gender inequality as gender-based discrimination that habitually privileges or prioritizes one gender over another.
Equality is a basic human right, and gender-based discrimination violates that right. Gender inequality begins in childhood and limits the lifelong potential of children.
Inequality is a societal phenomenon. Differences in genetics, psychology and cultural standards in society might give birth to unequal treatment. Some of these differences are facts-based, while others are socially built. Studies show the diversity in gender experiences in various fields including education, life expectancy, personality, hobbies, family life, profession, and politics. In many societies, gender discrimination impacts non-binary individuals too.
Law and Gender-based Discrimination:
Nearly every human rights treaty forbids discrimination based on gender. This also covers international conventions on equal rights for women and men, such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is a landmark convention on women’s rights and women’s equality.
Federal, state, and local legislation in India protects people against discrimination between men and women and all forms of gender inequality. Equality between men and women is a principle integrated into the preamble, fundamental rights, fundamental duties, and directives of the Indian Constitution. The Constitution not only guarantees equality for women, but also allows the State to adopt positive discrimination measures for them. Furthermore, both legislation and policies acknowledge that the promotion of gender equality is vital to the achievement of policy goals for a more affluent and peaceful world.
Where Gender Inequality Begins:
Gender bias and consequent discrimination against men and women start in infancy. Children confront uneven gender standards beginning in their households, schools, and communities. It may be about expectations or access to resources and opportunities – they all will have lifetime repercussions.
For example, males worldwide are frequently encouraged to attend school and learn to prepare for employment. While girls perform onerous home duties which keep them out of school, boosting child marriages and pregnancies.
Manifestation of Gender Inequality:
Gender disparity remains unchanged, despite international advances. Far too many girls, especially those from the poorest households, still endure gender discrimination at various levels, they become victims of underage marriage and pregnancy, sexual assault, and unacknowledged domestic labour. The following are some manifestations of gender inequality:
- Gender disparity in schooling for girls. Girls were more likely to never get inside a classroom even before the pandemic. Conflict, poverty, and other socioeconomic disadvantages induced by the COVID pandemic are further widening the disparity between men and women in schooling.
- Child marriage is the most prominent manifestation of gender-based violence that leads to gender inequality and discrimination against women.
- Gender violence takes place in all economic and social categories across the world. One in three women worldwide, mainly via abusive relationships, has suffered physical or sexual violence in their life. Violence may include infanticide, neglect, genital mutilation of the woman, rape, marriage of children, forced prostitution, honor killing, and dowry. Particularly vulnerable are the refugee children.
- 152 million children are presently working across the world as child labourers. Child work makes schooling harder or inhibits children’s attendance and threatens them to fall behind their classmates. Girls are considerably more inclined to take charge of domestic labour. Girls are taken out of school sooner than boys and suffer sexual exploitation and enslavement more often.
Importance of Gender Equality:
Gender equality is a vital basis for a peaceful, successful and sustainable future, as well as an essential fundamental human right. Eradicating gender problems implies a world where regardless of gender everyone enjoys the same rights, resources, opportunities, and safeguards.
Equality between men and women is inherently related to sustainable development and is essential for the achievement of human rights for everyone. The overarching aim of equality between men and women is a society in which women and men have equal opportunities, rights, and duties in every aspect of life.
However, it is vital to recognize how women are typically excluded from decision-making. They do not have access to economic and social resources. Therefore, the empowerment and rectification of women’s power imbalances and empowering of women in the management of their lives are essential aspects of fostering gender equality. This allows people to decide and take action to ensure their own reproductive and sexual health and preserve it.
Gender Inequality and Men:
The realization of equality between men and women entails modifications. More equal relationships must be built upon with a rethinking of women’s and men’s rights and obligations in all areas of life, including family, workplaces, and society as a whole. Therefore, we cannot overlook gender as an element of men’s social identity.
Gender profoundly impacts men’s lives too. Societal norms of men as leaders, spouses, and sons impose demands on men and affect their conduct. We can observe that males focus too much on their families’ financial demands and not on the role of nurturing and loving. Socialization in the household and in schools encourages risk-taking among young males and this is frequently strengthened by peer pressure and stereotypes of media. Therefore, the lifestyles demanded by men’s occupations typically lead them to an increased risk of illness and death when compared to women. These hazards include accidents, violence, and the intake of alcohol.
Men can also take on a more caring role and they must be encouraged to do it too. Men also have duties, in relation to child health and the sexual and reproductive health of their own and partners. Addressing these rights and duties involves the recognition of men’s particular health concerns, requirements, and situations. Adopting a gender perspective is an essential first step; it shows that males who are affected by patterns of gender difference have inconveniences and expenses too.
In conclusion, all of us should aim for gender equality and destroy the old school belief that men and women are not capable of doing certain activities. This is the only means of bringing the nation to a successful path. We are all aware of the enormous contribution that gender equality in India can make in all departmental areas. Equal treatment of all genders and empowerment of women helps a nation grow at a substantially quicker pace. Therefore, we as a society must collectively aim to achieve equality and eradicate all forms of gender-based discrimination to achieve a sustainable and equitable world.
 UN POPULATION FUND, https://www.unfpa.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions-about-gender-equality (last visited Jul. 9, 2021).
 UN WOMEN, https://www.unwomen.org/-media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2016/cedaw-for-youth.pdf?la=en&vs=657 (last visited Jul. 9, 2021).
 INDIA CONST. art. 14-30.
 Ibid art. 36-51.
 Gender Equality in India – Empowering Women, Empowering India, Hindrise, (July 7, 2021, 9:29 PM) https://hindrise.org/resources/gender-equality-in-india-empowering-women-empowering-india/
Editor: Ananya Manjunath