For centuries, many royal families in countries across Europe were subject to archaic, discriminatory policies on succession. To put it simply, regardless of whether a woman was born before her male siblings, she would not become queen. Instead, her younger brother was granted this right for no other reason than being a man.
Even though it took close to five hundred years for this to change, it ultimately did, at least in the United Kingdom, a nation known for its ironclad sense of protocol and tradition. In 2015, the Succession to the Crown Act was introduced, finally amending the rules surrounding the British throne and giving women a much-deserved opportunity to hold the highest privilege in England.
Things have also changed from a business perspective, albeit not as much as one would have expected by now and hoped for. Sure, there are more women in managerial and other high-level positions in many companies than ever before. But the numbers are nowhere near equal to their male counterparts, and there is still a lot of work to be done.
As we examine these and other gender-related matters, let us look at some of the most important issues on gender equality and women empowerment.
Perception and Power
Several of the wealthiest people in America are older men. As they approach the final stages of their lives, many of them start thinking about their wills and hire expert lawyers in matters of estate planning. After all, they don’t want their assets to be left to the wrong hands and their legacies tarnished.
What is interesting to see is that a lot of them, especially business owners, leave their firms to sons and brothers more so than wives, daughters, and sisters. But why is that? Are they themselves gender-biased?
The answer is probably not. Rather, they do so to maintain a certain image of power and stability among customers and business partners. Even if they trust the women in their lives, plenty of others might not.
Equality and Differences
No matter how progressive you might be or how good of an education you have, nobody can argue that men and women are the same, at least from a physical perspective. All things being equal, a man will generally be stronger than a woman, but he will never be able to bear children or fully understand the concept of motherhood.
Yet, many leaders in the feminist movement and advocates of gender equality fail to realize this and continue pushing agendas where men and women are expected to behave the same way in similar circumstances. And when that doesn’t happen, rather than experiencing progress, we are made more aware of how different we are, and the movement for women empowerment takes a step back.
The key, therefore, is to understand that we are different but prevent these differences from impeding female advancement and equal opportunities.
Should a woman cook and clean at home while her husband is making money to provide for the family? If the car breaks down, who should be the one to try to fix it or take it to the mechanic? If one of the children has a problem at school and the parents are called in for a talk with the principal, should it be the mother who attends?
Since the beginning of the first hunter-gatherer societies of hundreds of thousands of years ago, there has been debate about the roles men and women should play within a family. But it is only recently that they have taken precedence over many other matters. Luckily, in the 21st century, a woman is close to becoming whoever she wants to be. As long as she abides by basic social laws, there is no limit to what she can achieve.
According to studies by UNESCO, there are close to six million more out-of-school girls than boys worldwide. Most of them are in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Also, these gender disparities increase the higher the level of education. This means that while in kindergarten boys and girls generally have equal education opportunities, the same cannot be said for middle school, high school, and university students.
If girls have many fewer opportunities than boys to get a standard education, they will also not compete for jobs when they get older. Thus, gender inequality should be dealt with at the most basic levels of society, namely the chance for girls to gain knowledge and learn.
As we have seen, there are many topics of discussion when it comes to gender. Still, the most important thing is to understand that even if men and women are different, we can achieve success given the right framework and a suitable environment.