A decade after International Women’s Day was initiated, women are still fighting for equality. The world continues to be male dominated and women are severely underrepresented in almost every sector—be it politics, business or academia. It’s unfortunate that year after year the celebration of International Women’s Day has become “just another day” and the purpose behind this event has faded into obscurity. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2012, although the EU continues to do better than the rest of the world, women under-represent in decision-making positions. Corporate EU remains male dominated; a large majority of board members are men. The U.S. tops the gender equality list with 52 percent of the workforce represented by females; yet women in leadership roles in business and in politics are still low. It’s sad to see that even in the 21st century a hot topic of discussion in the U.S. presidential election campaign is equal pay/rights to women. Men are in charge of making decisions for women, be it anti-abortion laws or the Pope rejecting birth control. Refusing to legalize abortion, which would grant enormous freedom of choice to women, holds them prisoners and men are the guards of the locks.
Would things be different if more women were in key positions? I’m not in the least pro (or anti) feminist, but I cannot help but wonder whether women in positions of power would advocate peace rather than instigate war; and would spend more money on education, healthcare and childcare.
Statistics from developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America are deeply disturbing—less than four percent of women are in leadership roles in any sector. India, a developing nation, is still fighting hard to eradicate female infanticide where one female child in six dies due to gender discrimination.
We take great interest in collecting data and conducting research to reach some or other conclusion, but what are we doing with the results of our research? It is a fact that there is great inequality in this world, but how much longer will it take to bridge this gap? Or will the dream of gender equality simply remain that—a dream?
Across the last 100 years, considerable progress has been made in achieving gender equality, but we still have a long way to go before we can in the true sense celebrate International Women’s Day.
by Maithri Menon