Friday September 29, 2017
By: Nada Reda El-Kharbotly
No matter how advanced people think they are or how far the evolution of women’s rights has taken us, equal rights for both genders have yet to be achieved. The bold truth is that our society is sexist; most people still believe that men are stronger, smarter, and make better leaders than women. As a devout feminist, I find that shameful. I believe in equal opportunities, rights, and treatment for men and women because simply, it is not our sex that defines us, but our abilities and personalities that do.
The fact that we are still discussing these issues in the 21st century, is utterly ridiculous. It’s truly absurd how women are still being degraded by men. In Afghanistan, a man can lawfully restrict his wife from leaving the house. Women in Saudi Arabia were just granted the right to drive on September 26, 2017. They still have to wait until June 2018 for the law to take effect. In Israel, divorce is granted solely by husbands. How is that possible? Even in Egypt, women were granted the right to initiate divorce in 2000. Also, the legal age for marriage with parental consent is quite low in many counties; in Iran, its only 13 for girls. Not to mention that illegal child marriages are a present problem in many countries.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2016 women worldwide are paid, on average, about 22% less than men in the same type of employment. Let alone the even bigger pay gap experienced by women minorities – due to race or religion. Egypt ranks low in gender equality compared to other countries globally; the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index (GDP), which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranked Egypt at 132 out of 145 countries worldwide. According to the IMF, raising the female labour force participation rate to the male level, together with access to employment opportunities, would increase Egypt’s GDP by approximately 34 percent. This may come as a shock to many privileged women who may not experience the differences in work openings. But unfortunately, many companies and organisation do in fact prefer to hire men for many reasons, one of them is to avoid the expenses of maternity leave.
Why women have to fight for essential rights, to vote, to be educated, and to be respected, while men receive these rights on a golden platter? In this day and age, women are running for presidency and yet, they can’t receive the same treatment as men. One of the most important issues we need to focus on is women empowerment and gender equality. It’s not a want or a privilege, it’s a need, a necessity. We need to make sure that young girls with dreams know that they can achieve them, that when they walk that extra mile, society will encourage them, not push them back. They need to know they have the resources it takes to excel, to contribute to their communities and make this world a better place. These resources include, among other things, equal pay for comparable work, equal opportunities, equal education and political rights.
Some voices argue that women are not equal because of their biological differences and that male and female bodies are built differently to perform specific tasks. Indeed, that point may be valid. We are biologically different – that’s a given. However, that doesn’t mean it is acceptable to have variant roles, rights, opportunities, and jobs. That is neither fair nor righteous. Opportunities should be based according to intelligence, qualifications, and experience only.
To sum it up, men and women are in reality different, yet, quite the same. We are all born equal and should be treated as such. No gender is superior to the other. We all deserve the exact same respect and chances. We all bleed red. We are all humans.
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