What’s next for Gender Equality?

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ViewsApril 13th, 2022

Gender Equality is a fundamental right not a plea to the conscience says WEN Wales Diverse5050 Campaigner, Evelyn James

The need to have equal rights and access to opportunities and resources regardless of gender has been a mainstream desire for decades now, advocated by politicians and leaders the world over. Yet achieving a fair and balanced society where equality and diversity thrives is still a far-fetched reality. 

The Problem

Social attitudes and structures continue to hinder the delivery of gender equality ranging from unequal power asymmetries in political, economic, social, and cultural life which stagnates women’s growth. This is tied to practices that continue to portray one gender (men) more powerful than the other and more capable. Women remain prevalent in the informal sectors with little or no wages for their time, efforts, and contributions to the economy. They continue to face sexual and physical abuse which attribute to long-term mental and physical health problems

Gender Equality in Wales

Wales represents one of the nations that have upped the scale in bridging the gender equality gap. However, there is still a great deal that needs to be done to create the much-needed balance in the society. Women in Wales continue to face inequalities pertaining to their health, pay, continuous perpetration of sexual violence and online abuse, and lack of equal and diverse representation in leadership.

The Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales has remained at the forefront of the struggle for a Wales free from all forms of gender discrimination seeking to give women equal rights of access at the decision table for their voices and issues to be addressed effectively.

Currently, our Diverse5050 campaign aims to create equal and diverse representation for women in the Senedd especially women from under-represented groups (Black, Asian, and Ethnic Minority women, LGBTQ+, disabled women and women with other protected characteristics) through the integration of gender and diversity quotas. We see this as a key part of the ongoing electoral reform, to make sure the Senedd fully represents the people it serves. Research has shown that one of the most effective ways of improving representation for women in leadership is through the integration of legally binding gender quotas. The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru have recently announced that they will be implementing legally binding gender quotas as part of their co-operation agreement. We applaud them for doing this and there must be no rowing back on this commitment. 

Next Steps

Levelling the unequal power relations in leadership is key to achieving gender equality as international data shows that women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination are especially under-represented. For instance, women under 40 make up only 6.1% of the world’s MPs. Intersectional embedded quotas are emerging as global best practice to ensure diverse representation across different protected characteristics. The exclusion of one is the exclusion of all. The Senedd and the political structure must reflect the population it serves in Wales.

It is worth emphasizing that gender equality is a right and not a plea to the conscience and should be recognized as such in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 which emphatically states that “gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. 

The message has been sung for decades now and the battle for equality remains ever ferocious. Tackling gender inequality is still rooted in the barriers and discriminatory practices that have sustained the subordination of women in all spheres of life. As succinctly put by the UN Executive director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

“Women are not simply consumers of prescribed solutions, they also design solutions for whole societies, and they are equipped to address issues that affect their lives”.

Let women speak for themselves, lead, access opportunities and participate in all activities that pertain to the social, political, and economic world which they are a part of. This is not an ask but a fundamental right that must be recognized by all both at the institutional and cultural level.


Tagged with: Women

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