There have been different misconceptions making round about gender equality. Some believe that the advocacy for gender equality is to grant both the male and female gender the right to transsexualism. Other believes that gender equality is a western culture that breeds lack of mutual respect between the male and the female gender.
Gender equality is not an issue pertaining to the biological construct of human but rather it is a fundamental human right which strengthens the social construct of human. With most women taking a stand for feminism, it is been widely believed that gender equality only engages women’s rights which make it anti-manism. No! Gender equality is not women’s issue but rather an issue of humanity which engages all sexual varieties to have same access to the control and use of resources for the development of self and the world at large.
The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAN, succinctly put gender equality as same right and same opportunities available to all men and women in various fields of human activity, including but not limited to education, martial legislation, and labor.
No country around the world has achieved 100% gender equality including European countries despite various laws enacted but there are countries that have made tremendous progress. In 2013, out of 136 emerging nations Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Philippines top the list of the gender gap report while Yemen, Pakistan, Chad, Syria, Mauritania, and Cote d’Ivoire ranked bottom (a report compiled by World Economic Forum). Factors such as health (life expectancy), education, economic participation, and political engagement were taken into cognisance.
Countries that are yet to make any substantial progress with regards to gender equality are most times hindered by social norms, traditions, cultures or religious beliefs. In some of these countries, women are still treated as ‘inferior being’ whose talents ends in the kitchen and as a baby manufacturing machine. In some parts of the Eastern part of Nigeria, there are still practices that demands widows to sleep in the same room with the corpse of their husbands, forced to drink the water used in washing the body of their husbands, and some of these widows are also “willed” to marry their husband brothers against their consent.
Violence against women such as trafficking, child marriage, domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and honor killings also undermines the achievement of gender equality as they limit women into becoming a fully expressed and developed being that contribute to the development of the society.
In Nigeria, women participation in politics is below the global average (15%). In the last 2011 general election, only 9% of the candidates for the National Assembly elections were women i.e. only 25 women were inclusive in the total 360 members of the House of Representatives. Only 13 of the 340 who contested on behalf of various political parties for the office of governor were women (Gender in Nigeria report 2012 – DFID).
Gender equality doesn’t do anyone any harm nor breeds disrespect. Gender equality is a social construct which ensures equal empowerment of both male and female to achieve development, a sustainable and peaceful economy.
Gender equality is the number 3 Millennium Development Goal which once achieved, the remaining 7 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) will be achieved. So, why not a gender equalised world?