Gender inequality is a characteristic of the social order, according to which different social groups (in this case – men and women) have stable differences arising out of their unequal opportunities in society. Gender inequality has been recognized by researchers in the social sciences and humanities through the notion of gender in 1980 as the basis for feminist concept (Joan Scott). Conceptualizing of gender has shed light on the social construction of masculinity and femininity as oppositional categories with unequal social value.
“No society treats a woman equally with a man” – this conclusion was made by the UN Development Program(Ngo, 2003). In 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated that every person, regardless of gender, is entitled to the same freedom (Ngo, 2003). However, the report on Human Development made in 2011 says that no state succeeds in achieving this goal. Moreover, the level of “underperformance” is different in each country, but still, the Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway and Iceland are states in which the level of gender inequality is the least.
However, in most countries, women still face the problem of inequality. The problem of gender inequality manifests itself in the professional opportunities of women and men, in freedom restriction that women experience, violence towards them, in opportunities to participate in political life of their state, and other spheres. For instance, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Census, women earn only 77 percent of what men earn for the same amount of work, they are also very rarely hold a senior position at a large company. A pregnant woman or mother is often confronted with prejudice, that she will not be able to achieve anything in her career ( Krymkowski, 2011).
In addition, there is still a problem with freedom to move for women and violence against them. Thus, the strict Islamic law in the eastern countries prohibits women from leaving their homes without her husband’s permission, because it could potentially bring them into contact with strange men. In 2008, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported that one of three women worldwide has been beaten, raped or subjected to another kind of violence in their lives. In both developed and developing countries, violence against women in the form of rape, abuse and even murder is such everyday routine behavior these events are rarely reported in media. In some countries, marital rape is still not even considered a crime; other states have laws that require the presence of a certain number of men – witnesses to the court to recognize that the rape actually took place (Walton, 2005).
The problem of free choice of partner for marriage is manifested even today in the fact that in many countries young girls forced to marry men who are twice or even three times older from their age. According to UNICEF, more than one third of women aged 20-24 who are married, got married before they reach the age of 18, which is the minimum age in most countries for marriage. Thus, the bride-children have children at an early age, what increases the chance of complications during baby delivery and the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (den Dulk, 1996).
While studying the problem of education today, statistics shows that most children, who are not enrolled in school, are girls. Two-thirds of illiterate people in the world are women. When it comes to women’s education, it is not always possible to obtain, because in developing countries, girls are often withdrawn from school in order to help to do household, they can also be picked up from school by fathers, if they feel that it’s time to get married for them or the family is shortened with money for education of two children and, therefore, preference is given to the boy.
This gap in education is even more frustrating when researchers suggest that girls’ education is a key factor in eliminating poverty and promoting personal development. Girls, who finished school, are less likely to marry at an early age, and are more likely will create a family with fewer children, and will be healthier. These women also earn more and invest in their families, providing thus the opportunity for their daughters to get an education. In fact, the problem of inequality in education can help solve many other problems in this list. Analysts also say that many of these issues illuminated and not illuminated in this case could be solved if women had higher levels of political participation. Despite the fact that women constitute half the world’s population, they account for only 15.6 percent of seats in parliaments around the world. These cases are just few examples of gender inequality which still exists today in the world. As it is possible to see mostly it’s observed in developing countries but it does not mean that women in developed countries have already become completely equal with men.
den Dulk, L., van Doorne-Huiskes, A., Schippers, J. (1996). Work-family arrangements and gender inequality in Europe. Women in Management Review, 11(5), pp. 25-30.
Krymkowski, D., Mintz, B. (2011). College as an Investment: The Role of Graduation Rates in Changing Occupational Inequality by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender. Race and Social Problems, 3(1), pp. 1-12.
Ngo, H-y., Foley, S., Wong, A., Loi, R. (2003). Who Gets More of the Pie? Predictors of Perceived Gender Inequality at Work. Journal of Business Ethics, 45(3), pp. 227-231.
Walton, M., Lambert, M. (2005). Gender-based inequalities. British Journal of General Practice, 55(513), p. 314.