Why gender equality is important? Not just for me, or for women but for everyone.

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By David Kennedy

This post was written by a student in the Burnet News Club. Seeing as February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Representation of The People Act of 1918”, I feel that it’s only right for me to explain why gender equality is important. That’s ultimately what campaigns like #metoo and #timesup are trying to achieve but some people still see them as a feminist witch hunt against men. They aren’t. In fact, those people couldn’t be further from the truth. Gender equality isn’t a secret campaign that’s anti-men, nor is it a zero sum gain. It’s a chance to maximise the potential of each and every one of us to boost the economy and create a society where we are all seen as people regardless of our gender. It’s a chance for us all to progress. And a chance we should take, with both hands.

The main reason I believe gender equality is beneficial to society as a whole is the economic gains the can be made as a result of the emancipation and empowerment of women. The U.S economy is now $2T larger than it would’ve been if so many women didn’t join the workforce. Imagine if this hadn’t happened. Imagine what the workforce could look like in the future as this trend continues.

In developing countries, family’s standards of living could dramatically increase if women joined the labour force, as there would be more income. Unfortunately, progress is slow. Global male labour force participation rates continue to exceed female rates. When women do find work, it’s often in the informal sector or sectors with relatively low wages. Some of this is partly due to structural discrimination and gender norms. These stereotypes suggest that women should aspire to go into certain careers.

This isn’t good enough. I want more women to have the opportunity to work wherever their strengths lie, not where society dictates them. This notion of a wider talent pool is one of the important reasons to me why gender equality is important. If companies employed women on an equal basis then that company will have a more diverse skill-set. A McKinsey report found that ‘for every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings rose by 3.5%.’ So more gender diversity equals more profit. It can surely also lead to more innovative solutions to the problems we face.

Speaking of problems, this country has an array of them right now; from Brexit to the NHS crisis. However, Thatcher once said, “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” Theresa May’s position as the second female prime minister suggests that politics itself is changing for the better. Despite the recent Westminster allegations of sexual harassment, a record high of 32% women MP’s were elected to the House of Commons following the 2017 general election. As parliament becomes more representative, young women will have more positive role models. They also can rest assured that female voices in the corridors of power are being heard, louder and clearer than ever before.

The former UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon once said that: “Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.” This is why gender equality is important to me. Because I play a part in the social fight against this inequality.