Beyond the common belief that gender equality and empowerment is a goal worth our time and efforts, most fail to ask why it is beneficial to everyone in society. What makes it a top priority for the times we live in?
The tapestry of development and social progress is intricately woven with threads of gender equality and empowerment. They have come to the forefront as pivots in the ever-uncertain course of socio-economic progress. The resonance of these factors has been increasingly evident in the interplay of global dynamics. Digging deep into realms of gender equality and women’s empowerment uncovers irrefutable evidence of their positive impact on economic growth, health, education, and social dynamics. As is evident, gender equality can catalyse profound transformations.
Empowering Women Is “Smart Economics” as greater gender equality can enhance economic productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions and policies more representative. A McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Gender equality goes hand-in-hand with macroeconomic and financial stability, can stimulate economic growth, boost private and public sector performance, and reduce income inequality. Increasing women’s participation in sectors, especially those with restrictive barriers against women, will result in a fuller utilization of their skills and thus lead to an increase in productivity.
Gender equality and women empowerment is a means and an end in itself. It helps fulfil other important societal goals like better family health, reduced family size, and better distribution of resources between female and male counterparts. Unequal societies are less cohesive and have higher rates of anti-social behaviour and violence. Societies with greater gender equality are safer, more connected, healthier and have better wellbeing. Goals like empowering women to take independent decisions, bringing down violence against women and creating a better work environment almost cause a domino effect in eradicating orthodox norms and breaking traditional gendered stereotypes.
Leading by example is the best way to teach the next generation the ideals we aim to inculcate in everyday life, and gender equality and empowerment are no different. When women make their own reproductive choices, their lives improve and they can better care for their children. With earned income, women can provide better healthcare, better food, and better opportunities for their kids. Studies also show that infant mortality rates decrease as a woman’s education level increases. Creating conscious efforts to appreciate gender-equalizing acts of individuals and organizations normalizes the way the country’s younger generation looks at the world around them. Empowered and educated women are better able to support the growth and development of their children and guide them toward success and becoming better human beings.
The synergy between gender equality and overall health is obvious. Women face several unique health challenges while some other health issues affect women differently and more commonly. Greater gender equality will lead to a greater focus on innovations to address women’s health and a scaled-up effort to increase women’s access to healthcare. Also, breaking gender-biased structures and closing the gender gap results in better mental health and overall well-being for females. As females are more and more able to make financial decisions and have a higher perch for themselves, the identity associated with empowerment brings them respect and status. Breaking the monotonous and unrecognized cycle of unpaid care work, equal opportunities in the work realm give to have a say in their matters.
Research on women, peace, and security provides strong evidence that women’s empowerment and gender equality are associated with more peaceful and stable outcomes. Exclusion of females from power structures and other decision-making opportunities runs the risk of creating frequent and severe violent clashes. Women’s participation in negotiations for peace has a favourable effect on the longevity of peace accords, preventing conflict from recurring. With greater gender equality, the level of violence used in international conflicts declines. Armed and violent interstate conflicts are more prevalent in nations with lax standards for human rights, particularly gender equality.