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Is gender equality a quest to empower women only in the society

For the last one decade, the world has embarked on empowering women in the society in order to increase their productivity. This is in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to the report released by the economists from the World Bank, there cannot be full economic development in the world if women are not empowered to become economic contributors just like their male counterparts (Gender equality, empowering women, 1). Consequently many countries, especially those that are members of the UN,  have put more effort in ensuring that the female members of the society have equal opportunities to their country’s resources. Women empowering has taken several dimensions ranging from creating leadership positions for women, promoting girl child education, fighting for women rights and privileges among other things that society had denied women for a long time (Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, 1).

However, men’s activist and other sociological analysts have raised their concern about the ongoing process on women empowerment. These activists point out that gender equality has been misused to promote women empowerment at the expense of men. The argument is that since the strategy was introduced, men in the society have been ignored and currently they have become an endangered species. In many countries all the major  resources are used in ensuring that the girl child is assured a bright future and little is done about the boy child. Therefore, the argument is that if nothing is done, future men will be helpless and non productive just as the way women were a few decades ago.

Purpose of the study

This study will therefore try to highlight the issue of gender equality in order to determine whether it is really a quest to empower women at the expense of men. The study will involve evaluation of the readily available information from what previous researchers have done and the actual collection of data from both men and women samples. By collecting information from both men and women it will be possible get the actual information on what people feel about the idea of gender equality. The study also aims to determine whether the goal of  gender equality has been achieved or not. By doing so, it will be possible to determine whether the outcomes of  gender equality bought equality between the two genders or made women more superior than men in the society (Gender equality, empowering women, 1). After analyzing both the information from the available literature and feedbacks from the respondents who participated in the study, the study will be able to provide solutions to some of the hypotheses existing about the concept of gender equality. Generally, the study will eliminate the existing controversy that the idea of gender equality pushed by many feminists is aimed empowering women at the expense of men.

Literature review

Introduction

When one hears of the word gender, there are so many things that come in mind of depending on the understanding of the person and what that person believes on matters related to gender. Generally, the term gender is surrounded by the economic , social and cultural attributes and opportunities that are associated with one being a male or female. A few decades ago, being a male or a female in many parts of the world, was not only a biological difference but also a determinant of what a person is and responsibilities in the society. It is evident therefore that gender difference was the social and cultural factor that determined how women and men related to many parts of the world. According to a report released by scholars and of social relations, (Hafkin,  & Huyer, 87), gender imbalance has discriminated women in the society more than their male counterparts, thereby making them to be left behind in terms of economic development. For a long period of time women in many parts of the world,  especially the developing countries, have been sidelined as the less useful members of the society and have been denied leadership positions in the society and allocation job positions in developing organizations (Government, citizens and rights, 1).

However, with the current quest for gender equality, several movements and activists have been formed to promote equality between women and men in the society in order to ensure that they are given equal positions in the society. Gender equality and women empowerment have been termed as a very important factor towards the achievement of the new millennium goals and full development among the third world  countries. However, the idea of  promoting equality among men and women has been taken with mixed reactions from men’s activists who argue that the idea has been over emphasized with more efforts being given to the challenges that are facing women and little is done on the side of men (Gender equality, empowering women, 1) Additionally, those fighting for male rights also points out that  the idea of gender equality has become a quest to empower women at the expense of men. To them men are currently the endangered species.

The theory of gender equality

All through the world, being a man or a woman is beyond the commonly known physical and biological differences between males and females.  Men and women are faced with expectations on how to talk, dress and even mingle with each other in the society. This has been manifested  in the way men and women interact within families, workplaces, public places and in other social amenities. It is evident that gender is different from sex since it entails social and cultural differences that characterize men and women. The concept of gender has taken effect even in the modern societies. Economists and socialist have pointed out that developing countries cannot achieve full growth in terms of economic advancement if all genders are not given equal opportunities to contribute to the growth of the nation (Ritzier, 44). With the majority of the economists believing that women have been discriminated in the society, there has been a global concern from all parts of the world to promote women empowerment and gender equality between men and women. Efforts made to promote equitable between men and women in the last ten years is enough justification that characteristics and attributes are socially generated and they can still be changed to suit the demands of the society (Gender equality, empowering women, 1)

The difference between gender equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment

Gender equity, gender equality and women empowerment are three similar processes that have been used in the modern world to refer to the same thing. Currently, when the phrase gender equity or gender equality is mentioned, many people think of the quest to empower women. However, these three phrases have different meanings and are not aimed at making women superior in the society. For instance, gender equity refers to the process of being fair to both women and men in all sectors of the society. This means that both men and women should be equally represented in the society and the available resources should be well distributed to all genders without discrimination for the general good of the whole nation. According to the report released by the United Nation’s organ for human rights, gender equity cannot be achieved proper measures and strategies are not made to ensure that there is fairness and enough efforts to ensure that women are in a position to catch up with men in the society. It is a common knowledge that women historically have been socially disadvantaged in many parts of the world and this has made them to remain behind in terms of development (United Nations Population Fund, 16).

According to a group of economists and social activists from Harvard university, it is evident that gender equality cannot be achieved without gender equity. In order to have gender equality, both women and men should be allowed have equal rights to enjoy social-valued goods, resources, rewards and other opportunities that can improve their lives. It is important to note that whenever there is gender inequality, it is women who are disadvantaged when it comes to decision making and access to economic and social resources. This is because men have established themselves is superiors in the society for a long time. In fact women have been discriminated among men since the civilization of man. Consequently, the idea of gender equality entails the empowerment of women in order to enable them achieve balance with their men counterparts. This means that gender equality should identify and address power imbalances between men and women and ensure that women are given more freedom to manage their own lives without being directly responsible to men. Additionally, the scholars have noted that gender equality does not mean that men and women should become the same. This is naturally impossible because  men and women are created differently and cannot be the same. The idea is to ensure only that access to opportunities is equal and life changes among women are not dictated by the mere fact of being female. It is therefore evident that with the current state of power imbalance in our societies, gender equality cannot be achieved without promoting women empowerment. This will ensure that decision making at both public and private levels and access to resources are no longer made in men’s favor. When all this is achieved, men and women will be given opportunity to contribute to the economic development and reproductive life as equal partners and not women as subject to men. (Government, citizens and rights, 1).

The importance of gender equality

Gender equality cannot be ignored when addressing economic situations and when designing and actualizing population and development programs. First of all, it is worth noting that men and women have different roles in the society and these roles require different approaches. It is therefore important  to ensure that all these roles are addressed and achieved in order to promote economic development in our nations and in the world at large. With gender equality, both men and women will have specific roles and responsibilities in the society and this will improve production at the family level, nationally and globally enabling developing countries to achieve full development (Ritzier, 104).

Secondly, gender inequality among men and women has been there for a long time and it is the high time to ensure that this vice is removed from the society. Research shows that in all parts of the world women have been treated as inferior members. This has denied them the right to make decisions about their lives thereby hindering them from reaching their full potential. Consequently, women are unable to make contributions to the economic development of the country and even develop themselves. Research shows that developing countries especially in Africa, Asia and south America have not recognized the efforts of women in major positions such as national leadership. It’s therefore important to ensure that women are well empowered in order to ensure that they are at  equal position with men in terms of power and economic contribution in the society. This way gender equity and equality will be achieved and balance between men and women in the society established (Government, citizens and rights, 1).

It is therefore important to promote gender mainstreaming in order to ensure that gender related issues are incorporated in development policies, projects and programs. According to the World Bank,  achievement of the millennium goals cannot be a reality without gender mainstreaming to promote gender equality and women empowerment in population and development activities (Hafkin,  & Huyer, 21). The World Bank continues to add that this cannot be achieved without addressing gender disparities between men and women especially in areas such as division of labor and allocation of power and leadership positions in the society. The UNFPA has also adopted the idea of mainstreaming of gender in analyzing and monitoring population and development as a means of achieving millennium goals. It is therefore important not to mistake gender equality as a quest to empower women only in the society, and understand that there is a need to give women more attention in order to ensure that they are at the same level with their men counterparts in the society (Gasaway, 53).

Why the issue of gender equality is a major concern to men

Gender equality means that both men and women have to undergo changes and their view of life. Men need to start looking at women as equal partners in life and establish more equitable relationships based on the clear redefinition of the rights and responsibilities of men and women in all levels of life, be it in workplaces, family and the entire society at large (Ritzier, 91).  Men are supposed to stop overlooking women and stop viewing male characteristics as the norm and female characteristics as a variation of the norm. This way both men and women will be able to promote gender equality without looking as if one gender is being empowered against the other. The end result for gender equality is good coexistence in the society and economic development  nationally since both productive men and women will have the opportunity to contribute in the economic development projects (Hafkin,  & Huyer, 24).

However, a lot of heat has been generated as men debate the idea of gender equality. The majority of the men  argues that gender equality is a quest by feminist to empower women above men. The argument is that excessive efforts have been made to ensure that women are made superior than men. This reasoning is common in developing countries such as in Africa where culture and traditions present man as the superior gender. However, scholars and socialists have opposed this reasoning terming it as bases less and a selfish thinking that caters only for male interests in the society (Gender equality, empowering women, 1). According to modernists, it is the high time for men to realize that they have oppressed women for many years and it is the high time to let it go. All human beings are equal and there is no gender that should be more privileged than the other one. Therefore , it is important to ensure that both men and women are given equal access to social resources and equal economic opportunities in the society. Additionally, women need to be empowered in order to put them at the same level with men. This is because women have been discriminated for a long time and they are several miles behind men in terms of economic achievement and societal recognition (Hafkin,  & Huyer, 44).

Conclusion

Gender equality is a very important factor  that needs full achievement in order to realize the new millennium development goals. However, many people do not understand the idea of gender equality and they mistake it as a quest by female feminists to make women more powerful than men. The fact that more efforts have been put to empower women does not mean that women are being made powerful than men. We should note that women are not currently equally treated in the society and if gender equality has to be achieved, women have to be brought into par with their male counterparts. This means that there is the need to empower women and make them productive too so at to achieve gender equity and equality in the society. Therefore, it is wrong to mistake gender equality as a quest to empower women only in the society.

Statement hypothesizes

  1. Gender equality is not a quest to empower  women only in the society but women empowerment is necessary to bring them in the same level  with men.
  2. Gender equality and equity  cannot be avoided if the dream of achieving millennium goals has come true.
  3. Men in the modern society have not fully accepted that women are equal to men in terms efficiency at workplaces and in making major lifetime decisions.

Methodology

During the study several methods will be used in the collection of data, evaluation and representation of the findings. It is important to note that this is a both quantitative and qualitative study and therefore it is important to use methods that are able to capture the two forms of information. During the collection of data,  interviews and use of questionnaires will be used to collect information from the respondents.

Interviews

Interviews will be  used to collect qualitative information from the respondents on what they feel about the relation between  gender equality and women empowerment. Most of the interviews will be in-depth to ensure that respondents are in the best emotional state to give a personal opinion on what what they feel about the the idea of women empowerment and gender equality. Additionally, interviews will  make the study complete by complementing the quantitative information collected through the use of questionnaires. Last but not least, interviews are economical to conduct when compared with other data collection methods and they enable the participation of the researcher thereby reducing chances or errors during the collection of data (Kothari, 45-46)

Questionnaires

Questionnaires will be used to collect information from residents who could not be available for interviews. Structured questionnaires will be issued to the selected sample so that they can respond to the questions in the questionnaires. Filled questionnaires will then be collected, sorted and data represented in tables and charts for easier analysis and presentation. Questionnaires are economical to use and information collected through them is much accurate when compared to the one collected using other methods (Kothari, 72). Compiling, analysis and representation of data collected by the use of questionnaires is easier since the information is already in the organized tables. Structured questionnaires are also easy to understand and this makes the process of easy to conduct.  Lastly, questionnaires are effective when it comes to collection of quantitative data since it allows for the collection of data that can be calculated and represented numerically.

Samples

A random sample of 50 respondents will be taken from a group willing respondent from the society. The respondents will be issued with questionnaires where they will be required to fill in their opinions about the idea gender equality and women empowerment. The sample will constitute 25 men and 25 women who will participate in the filling of questionnaires and interviews. The sample will be first educated on  the purpose of the study and the use of the data collected during the study (Kothari, 98). This will make the respondents to be positive about the study.

Survey and interview questions

Some of the major questions that will be asked during the interviews and survey include:

  1. What is your understanding on gender equality, equity and women empowerment?
  2. Does gender equality really mean empowering women only in the society so that they can be superior to men?
  3. Do you think gender equality discriminates against men?
  4. Do you think men are justified with their claims that gender equality is planned by female activists to make women more superior than women?
  5. How can gender equality be used as a tool towards the achievement of millennium goals and economic sustainability in developing countries?

Procedure

The respondents will be issued with questionnaires and once filled, the questionnaires  will be collected and compiled for analysis and and presentation. Data collected during the interviews will also be compiled separately in order to avoid errors during the analysis because it represents qualitative information (Kothari, 101).  Later the information collected from the questionnaires and interviews will then be evaluated together in relation to the information from the questionnaires in order to come up with a conclusion on whether gender equality is really a quest to empower women only in the society and make them superior to men.