Gender Inequality of Opportunity Continues, Globally

According to a series on gender inequality of opportunity reported in University World News, female leadership lags behind male leadership across the globe. This occurs while violations of human rights “disproportionately affect them – threats to peace and security, climate shocks, slow economic recovery, global health pandemics, growing migration and a refugee crisis.” A recent article in the series written by Brendan O’Malley, “Signs of Progress for Women Amid Entrenched Inequality,” notes some positive changes that, although signs of progress, do not yet represent gender balance in global leadership.

In 2015, 32 new laws were adopted to promote women’s political participation. Some countries that have done well in this area include Mexico, where women parliamentarians are now 42% of government, and Rwanda, which has the highest number of women parliamentarians worldwide with women holding 63.8% of seats in the lower house.

The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, points out women and girls are primarily affected by labor, education, and lifestyle decisions largely drafted and signed into law by men.

Globally, three-quarters of working age men are in the labour force compared to half of working age women. Of those women in a job, nearly two-thirds are working in a family business without any direct pay, the report said. Globally, women earn 24% less than men and are less likely than men to receive a pension, which contributes to large income inequalities lasting throughout their lives, the report added.

Yet in all regions women work more than men: they do almost two and a half times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, and if paid and unpaid work are combined, women in almost all countries work longer hours than men each day.

Their potential impact in decision-making and in crafting legislation grows out of the fact that they live the imbalance policies have on the circumstances of women and girls. They can speak to the imbalances in ways that male leaders cannot, with a needed “feminist knowledge.” In addition, Mlambl-Ngcuka’s states, woman are “solution makers, an army of peacemakers and game changers the world is yet to fully engage.”

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