Balance For Better: Why?
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”- Gloria Steinem. Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere.
Balance is not a woman’s issue, it is a global issue, as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, giving them equal opportunities as their male counterparts. Despite this fact, there is still widespread disparity on issues relating to women, especially due to cultural norms and societal perception of women.
Studies by the United Nations affirms an even wider chasm between on-the-ground realities and global policies as there is a wider gap in the level of implementation of these policies in countries that guarantee equality between women and men in their constitutions.
The imbalance is global and cuts across all sectors. Global statistics shows a 23% gap in remuneration given to men compared to that of women, 52% more men are involved in politics than women; this imbalance also extends to areas such as education and agricultural land holders. There is no chance of making poverty history without significant and rapid improvements to the lives of women and girls in all countries as lower levels of discrimination against women are linked to better outcomes in several areas, including educational attainment, child health and food security.
In other to Better the Balance and Better the World, empowering women as economic, political, and social actors can change policy choices and make institutions more representative of a range of voices, there has to be a deliberate attempt at ensuring gender balance as there are various benefits which accrues to countries for adopting a balanced society.
The UNDP captures the effect of a balanced world in the following lines; if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent, which could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 per cent per annum, and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 per cent. Also, when women participate as witnesses, signatories, mediators and/or negotiators, resulting agreements are 35 per cent more likely to last at least 15 years.
Achieving gender equality in educational attainment and in labour force participation by 2030 can raise global gross domestic product by $4.4 trillion, or 3.6 per cent, and reduce the share of the global population living in extreme poverty ($1.90 a day) by 0.5 percentage points.
These can only be possible when women are given the opportunity to not just exist but thrive.
Since women and girls represent half of the world’s population, they also represent half of its potential, therefore, it becomes imperative for balance to be created and maintained in the spread of opportunities for everyone irrespective of gender.
Balance is not a woman’s issue; balance is everyone’s issue. Now is the time to do everything possible to help forge a more gender balanced world.
Credit: Social Good Lagos Research Team.
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