Gender equality seems like a faraway dream these days. While progress has been made, the numbers from groups like UN Women tell a discouraging story. Over 2 billion women don’t have the same employment options as men. At the current rate, it will take about a century to close the global pay gap. While human trafficking affects men and women, women and girls make up over 70% of the world’s human trafficking victims. In the face of this data, gender equality needs to be a priority. Why? Here are 10 reasons why it’s important:
#1. It saves lives
Because of their lack of empowerment and resources in many places, women and girls face life-threatening risks. Natural disasters are one example. At the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction, experts discussed how gender inequality plays a role in death and injury. Other data shows that climate change, which makes natural disasters more dangerous, puts women and girls in even more vulnerable positions. Bringing a gender perspective into discussions allows women to play a bigger role in their own protection.
#2. It results in better healthcare
Research shows that in general, women receive worse medical care than men. There are many reasons for this, including lack of education and lower incomes. Sexism in the medical research community also leads to worse care. Diseases that affect women more than men (such as chronic pain conditions) aren’t as well-researched. They’re often not taken as seriously by medical professionals. When women are equal in society, their health will be impacted positively.
#3. It helps businesses
When women receive the same education and job opportunities as men, they can improve any organization they join. Studies show that diversity of all types (gender, race, sexual identity, etc.) increases an organization’s productivity and innovation. One 2016 study from the University of California looked at big companies in the state with some women in the top leadership positions. They performed better than the companies with mostly men at the top.
#4. It’s good for the economy
Women’s impact doesn’t stop with individual companies and organizations. Studies show that increasing women’s participation in the economy is good for the economy. In OECD countries, if the female employment rates were raised to match Sweden, it would lead to a GDP increase equivalent to $6 trillion. Gender pay gaps end up costing the economy.
#5. Children are healthier
When women make their own reproductive choices, they provide better care for the children they do have. With income options equal to men, mothers can offer education, healthcare, and healthier food to their children. Studies also show that reduced infant mortality is linked to higher levels of education. Children raised in gender-equal environments will do better than those raised with inequality.
#6. It leads to better legal protections
Under the law, women aren’t well-protected from domestic sexual and economic violence. Both of these types of violence affect a woman’s safety and freedom. Increasing women’s legal rights keeps them safe and able to build productive happy lives.
#7. It leads to better racial equality
Gender equality and race equality are closely linked. Within issues like the gender pay gap, race plays a big role. White and Asian women earn more than black, Hispanic, and native women. In the United States, black women face a higher risk of death from pregnancy-related causes. When gender equality considers race as a factor, it improves race equality at the same time.
#8. It reduces poverty
Poverty rates are the highest among young girls. As boys and girls get older, the gender gap in poverty gets larger. This is likely because girls don’t receive the same education and job opportunities as boys, and when girls marry, they often don’t work. Gender inequality keeps women and their families trapped in cycles of poverty. When women receive better education, healthcare, and job opportunities, they can thrive. Investing in gender inequality is a sustainable, highly-effective way to reduce poverty.
#9. It reduces human trafficking
While men are also victims of human trafficking, women and girls make up the majority. They’re more vulnerable and traffickers see them as easier targets. With better education and job options, women and girls don’t end up in trafficking situations as often. Gender equality can also help strengthen a country, reducing poverty and instability. These fuel human trafficking.
#10. It can lead to peace
Research shows that gender equality is linked to peace, even more so than a country’s GDP or level of democracy. States with better gender equality are less likely to use military force. When a country addresses major areas of gender inequality like education and employment, it fosters peace.