What Gender Equality Means to Me

Ammara Maqsood | Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan When I started to write about this topic, the first thing I did was google the meaning of "gender equality" and what popped up was: “The state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.” At another site, it was stated as: “Gender equality is a political concept that emphasizes equality between genders. Gender equality is typically defined as women and men enjoying the same opportunities, rights and responsibilities within all areas of life.” According to UNESCO’s Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Framework: “Gender Equality means that women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic, social, cultural and political development.” So when someone is talking about gender equality, they mean providing the same resources and opportunities to all humans, irrespective of their gender. This is such a simple concept, and yet still so debated around the world. In coming to this conclusion, I decided that this concept is probably not as simple as it appears. There must be some impossible component to this that prevents us from making it the norm. So I further questioned, what is meant by the term "resource" or "opportunity" here? It must have such a complicated meaning that in the thousands of years of human existence, we still have not found a way to equally distribute resources and opportunities in our society to all genders. Does a resource or opportunity constitute the right to go out? Right to work? Right to earn? Right to compete for any position (like a seat in management department or give any exam for governmental position)? To me the resource should mean respect, the right to make your own decisions, the right to take initiative and the right to say yes or no to something or someone. One should simply have the right to choose what they want to do, and what they want to be. In doing further research, I found that many of the "asks" of people who believe in gender equality are not much different from the ones I listed above. And until this point, I still have not found anything overly impossible to do in terms of achieving gender equality. All the resources and opportunities gender equality supporters ask for, are basic rights that everyone should have access to by now. And yet, this is still not the case. After this rather long and (somewhat discouraging) process of defining gender equality and the lack of action being taken to ensure it is a reality around the world, I have come to develop my own meaning of this term. Gender equality to me, means women being given the freedom to choose their career, and being respected wherever they end up. It means not being so restricting that we don't let women leave the house. It also means not being so focused on liberation that we only accept females as engineers, office workers, doctors, pilots and air-hostesses, and don't give proper respect and rights to women who choose to stay at home and work so hard. Gender Equality is giving all women, those who choose to stay at home and those who choose to go out into the world, equal respect, importance, support and encouragement. It means valuing women, and giving them the basic rights that they deserve. Women around the world are continuing to fight for gender equality. It's time that we all recognize the importance of gender equality in all societies, and help our nations prosper by giving equal rights, and importance to women as much as men.

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© 2019 by Maryam and Nivaal Rehman