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Gender equality (also known as gender equity, gender egalitarianism, or sexual equality) is the goal of the equality of the genders or the sexes,[1] stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.

Concept Edit

The movement towards gender equality, especially in Western countries, began with the suffragette movement of the late-19th century. Then there was a change in relation to a woman's property rights in marriage. (See for example, Married Women's Property Act 1882.) In the 1960s, a more general movement for gender equality developed based on women's liberation and feminism. However, actual changes in attitudes continued to focus on specific issues.

The movement resulted in changes to laws, either relating to particular issues or general anti-sex discrimination laws. Changes to attitudes to equality in education opportunities for boys and girls has also undergone a cultural shift. Some changes came about by adopting affirmative action policies. The change has also involved changes to social views, including "equal pay for equal work" as well as most occupations being equally available to men and women, in many countries. For example, many countries now permit women to serve in the armed forces, the police force and to be fire fighters. Also, an increasing number of women are active in politics and occupy high positions in business.

Conversely, men increasingly are working in occupations which in previous generations had been considered "female occupations", such as nursing. Also, in the home, while acknowledging the biological differences between men and women, most notably in relation to child bearing, the role of child rearing is not as widely considered to be an exclusively female role. Another manifestation of the change in social attitudes is the non-automatic taking by a woman of her husband's surname on marriage, as well as a wife being free to pursue her career after marriage.

Many people, feminist and not, still do not regard the objective of gender equality as having been achieved, especially in non-Western countries. A highly contentious issue relating to gender equality is the role of women in Christian churches, and female priests. The issue has caused splits in some churches.

Not all ideas for gender equality have been popularly adopted. For example, the movement for topfreedom rights has remained a marginal issue, though breast feeding rights in semi-public places have been accepted. However, women embracing pornography and anti-social behaviour at times associated with male groups is widely criticised.

Efforts to fight inequalityEdit

World bodies have defined gender equality in terms of human rights, especially women's rights, and economic development.[2][3] UNICEF defines gender equality as "levelling the playing field for girls and women by ensuring that all children have equal opportunity to develop their talents."[4]

The United Nations Population Fund has declared that women have a right to equality.[5] "Gender equity" is one of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Project, to end world poverty by 2015; the project claims, "Every single Goal is directly related to women's rights, and societies where women are not afforded equal rights as men can never achieve development in a sustainable manner."[3]

Thus, promoting gender equality is seen as an encouragement to greater economic prosperity.[2] For example, nations of the Arab world that deny equality of opportunity to women were warned in a 2008 United Nations-sponsored report that this disempowerment is a critical factor crippling these nations' return to the first rank of global leaders in commerce, learning and culture.[6]

In 2010, the European Union opened the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in Vilnius, Lithuania to promote gender equality and to fight sex discrimination.

See also Edit


General issuesEdit

Specific issuesEdit


Organizations and ministriesEdit

Other related topicsEdit

References Edit

  1. United Nations. Report of the Economic and Social Council for 1997. A/52/3.18 September 1997, at 28: "Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality."
  2. 2.0 2.1 World Bank (September, 2006). Gender Equality as Smart Economics: A World Bank Group Gender Action Plan (Fiscal years 2007–10).
  3. 3.0 3.1 United Nations Millennium Campaign (2008). Goal #3 Gender Equity. United Nations Millennium Campaign. URL accessed on 2008-06-01.
  4. UNICEF. Gender equality. UNICEF. URL accessed on 2008-06-01.
  5. UNFPA (February 2006). Gender Equality: An End in Itself and a Cornerstone of Development. United Nations Population Fund. URL accessed on 2008-06-01.
  6. Gender equality in Arab world critical for progress and prosperity, UN report warns, E-joussour (21 October 2008)

Dennis O'Brien (May 30, 2008). Gender gap clues. Baltimore Sun. [dead link]

External links Edit

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