THE FIGHT FOR GENDER EQUALITY IS UP AGAINST A MILLION OTHER PROBLEMS


he past decade has seen massive strides made in gaining real gender equality across the globe. While some countries drag their feet in addressing the social injustices faced by hundreds of millions of women around the world, many others have made significant gains in advancing the rights of women and girls within their societies. So why then, in 2021, does it still feel as though we’re making such slow progress in ensuring equality for all? These last two years have been difficult ones. Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, one crisis after another has since befallen our world. As we bid farewell to 2020 almost ten months ago, many of us looked to the future with a sense of newfound optimism, taking stock of how the pandemic had ravaged our lives and changed the world forever. Now, as we begin to re-focus and turn our attention back to the issues and challenges that seemed to be placed on pause after Wuhan went into lockdown, we shine a spotlight on re-energising the fight for gender equality amid the seemly endless tragedies unfolding every day. A World in Crisis Having endured one of the most challenging years since the end of World War 2, 2021 seemed to have a lot going for it. Economies were starting back up, the vaccination programme was beginning to roll out, and things looked to be returning to normal. Then the Delta variant struck with a vengeance, shutting down Christmas plans; a group of radicals stormed the US Capitol, and the realities of BREXIT began to sink in. Suddenly, it seemed as though we were back to square one. Come June, and multiple severe weather events reminded us that climate change is still a very real threat; Haiti was about to see its darkest period since 2010, and economies began to falter amid uncertainty about the COVID timeline. And then Afghanistan happened. Joe Biden’s determination to withdraw US troops from the country before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 Attacks triggered a sequence of events that has left a nation at the mercy of a group of radicals whose agenda and policies threaten the stability of an entire hemisphere. In less than a month, the Taliban swept through Afghanistan, undoing two decades of coalition efforts, trillions of dollars of investment and leaving a trail of destruction and death, the severity of Page 1 of 2

which we may never truly appreciate. Of all the people of this struggling country, it is hard to argue that it is the Afghani women who will bear the brunt of this happening. Women on the Frontlines Now, as stories of women once again suffering subjugation, persecution and oppression at the hands of the new Afghan regime begin to emerge from the streets of Kabul and beyond, the world has been reminded that gender equality and gender-based violence is still alive and well. As China continues to reel disgust at the horrific live-streamed burning of popular vlogger Lamu at the hands of her ex-husband, it beggars belief that domestic abuse only became a criminal offence in the nation five years ago. Now, the country is facing its own reckoning on the shocking levels of domestic violence and abuse faced by as many as one in four of the 690 million women who call China home. As the UK grieves the gruesome rape and murder of Sarah Everard on the streets of London by a police officer in March, it seems that things are as bad as they’ve ever been in a country renowned for safety. Since the young marketing executive’s awful death, no less than 80 other women have lost their lives under circumstances where a man is the chief suspect. Gabby Petitio, missing for weeks, was discovered, strangled to death, in a US national park - her alleged murderer selfishly taking the answers to her fate to the grave with him. Countless other American women either missing or shot dead by their male partners – men who are still allowed to own firearms, despite violent histories – have perished under this devastating wave of violence, as illustrated by the jarring documentary - Unrelinquished. More and more, women are being targeted, abused and taken advantage of, and still, the world lingers on taking real action in confronting this scourge. The Ever-Widening Wage Gap The COVID-19 pandemic that threw economies into chaos has unsettled various jobs and businesses, the most vulnerable of which are often female-dominated and owned. Still, women in business leadership positions have to fight tooth and nail to earn the trust and support of their male counterparts and finance partners. Why? Another legacy of gender inequality. Additionally, women have endured disproportionate levels of unemployment and retrenchment through the health crisis, with many of them now forced to take on home caretaker roles due to the need for remote schooling supervision. Ultimately, as remote working and schooling become ever more prominent, it is the women who are forced to take on these additional home responsibilities who bear the brunt of the 'new normal.' This means that female participation in the labour force has sunk to 33-year lows and, as women returning to work are facing unemployment penalties too, they're earning even less than they were pre-COVID. While politicians tout measures to take on the gender wage gap, economists point to unchanging statistics in the pursuit of equal pay for women. Still, US female workers earn 82 cents for every dollar their male counterparts take home, and while the gap in the UK is the smallest it’s ever been, the past two years have seen no improvement. The Fight to Have Women’s Voices Heard At the risk of allowing COVID-19 and the trove of other crises to drown out the fight for gender equality, now is the time for people to maintain the hard-won momentum for which so many recently fought. While Afghanistan may eventually stabilise both economically and politically, what of the women who can no longer serve in government or go to work? What of the girls who are now Page 2 of 2

barred from receiving an education. Whilst the migrant crisis shows no signs of abating anytime soon, we must remember how much more vulnerable to violent crimes and abuse these desperate women are than men. And as the politicians and lawmakers stalking the corridors of power in Washington and London take on political bipartisanship and BREXIT upheaval, respectively, their female colleagues must not allow economic recovery and vaccine rollouts to outshine gender equality policy waiting to be enacted. END Total Word Count – 1 095 Words References & Backlinks:

  1. https://www.reuters.com/world/china/how-delta-variant-upends-assumptions-about- coronavirus-2021-07-26/

  2. https://www.standard.co.uk/insider/what-sharia-law-taliban-women-afghanistan-meaning- b951223.html

  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-54380148

  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/oct/02/the-81-women-killed-in-28-weeks

  5. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/16/us/gabby-petito-timeline-missing-case/index.html

  6. https://revealnews.org/article/unrelinquished/

  7. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/covid-19-and-gender- equality-countering-the-regressive-effects

  8. https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/equality/537884-womens-labor-force- participation-hits-33-year-low

  9. https://www.payscale.com/research-and-insights/gender-pay-gap/

  10. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/gender-pay-gap-uk-lowest-level- ever/?gclid=CjwKCAjwwsmLBhACEiwANq- tXOWRmJ34aoECTXXkidgaaw9rXpfIaHoCC8GoI3yriXC8HxXDwBgFNBoCY48QAvD_BwE

  11. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58786739

Keyword Frequencies:

  • Women

  • Gender Equality

  • Wage & Pay Gap

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