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A Gender Equal World Is A More Prosperous Place

Let’s understand that while this mission is on, women work hard and don’t need any exception. They earn the trust of society and will take on more and more to do the best.

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We're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, or we can choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world and from taking up this challenge comes change, so let's all #ChoosetoChallenge. This year’s International Women’s Day is all about challenging spaces that do not foster gender parity. While the vision is welcome, it is a travesty that even in the 21st century, there is a need to seek gender equality. The campaign for gender equality has achieved quite a bit, but the feeling is we need to achieve much more. What most people refuse to see is the unknown woman, the subjugated, gender shamed, under-educated and ill-treated by a male dominated society – as is the case in many parts of India.

India – 112 on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2020

The 2020 McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, ‘COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the regressive effects’, makes the case for bold action now. The strong message from the MGI research is that the faster policy makers and business leaders act to push for greater gender equality, even as the Covid-19 crisis continues, the bigger the benefits – not just for gender equality, but also for economic growth. Taking action for a gender equal world now could increase world GDP by $ 13 trillion by 2030, the report has said. As per World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2020, India has slipped four places on the index to 112, and now ranks below China, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, due to rising disparity in terms of women's health and participation in the economy.

Society may throw up many challenges for women, but they are tough to handle them. In this endeavor for change, we need everybody - activists, policy makers, politicians, and leaders to push for more change to happen in social and cultural realms. We are at a time when women need to define their own values, not as defined by patriarchy and culture. We need to exhibit a new, broader and vibrant self, based on our own authentic voices and redefine the values of the 21st century that put women at the center of decision-making in a variety of realms. 

Making the Cut: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

While certainly some things still need to be achieved, there have already been many achievements by women especially if we compare their status in earlier centuries to their status now. From voting rights to corporate and boardroom leadership, women have made the cut and come a long way. In boardrooms around the world, business leaders have tuned in to the reality that business makes sense with inclusive practices, and that it is also the right thing to do. Also, women in employment leads to better inclusion and diversity of thought and economic and social gains. Workplace diversity which has emerged in recent times has enabled women to be in leadership positions not by just increasing the number of women in a workplace, but by embracing the very concept of gender equality. Women have also delivered in every role they are in – the family, the friend and the professional and have worked hard, smart and long. A diverse workforce knits perfectly well to meet the requirements of a company and that should be the goal and vision we should strive for by leveraging individual gender strengths.

Raise your Hands

This International Women’s Day, all of us are being asked to “raise our hands” and “call out aspects that are unfair to women. This could be in any area of life, from access to education and choices for girls and young women, to gender stereotyping in toys, and access to flexible working across every level of a business. Diversity is crucial at every level of action and having diversity of thought – along with diversity of gender - will only help strengthen the long-term health of society. Not only would a gender-equal, fair and inclusive world mean a more prosperous and safer world for all of us, it would mean that gender equality is a mission in its own right. Let’s understand that while this mission is on, women work hard and don’t need any exception. They earn the trust of society and will take on more and more to do the best.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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gender equality international women's day 2021

Fabiola Mendes

The author is Director, Bennet & Bernard Group

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