The ‘gender equality’ spectrum

By Herman M. Lagon

Gender and development is a complicated and multidimensional topic of discussion. A shocking reality is revealed in a 2023 research by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): most Filipinos, particularly women, have prejudices against their gender. Women’s rights specialist Nathalie Africa-Verceles notes that internalized sexism and ingrained cultural standards are the root causes of this pervasive problem.

In spite of its international recognition for gender equality, the Philippines has significant challenges due to its deeply ingrained patriarchal culture. This culture, which is a direct result of religious indoctrination and colonization, is evident in politics, the educational system, and the business sector. For example, women are disproportionately underrepresented in government positions and must deal with issues like hazardous school environments and economic prejudices that limit them to traditional homemaking duties.

Verceles highlights the need of a comprehensive strategy for achieving gender equality, supporting grassroots activism and legislative changes to uplift women’s status and guarantee their rights. In order to eradicate deeply rooted sexism, this strategy necessitates addressing problems at several levels, from individual attitudes to institutional procedures.

The phenomenon of poisonous feminism is one of the major obstacles in the path towards gender equality. This phrase describes the misapplication of feminist principles, which might take the form of covert violence or the maintenance of gender stereotypes while masquerading as empowerment. In order to maintain the inclusivity and efficacy of the equality movement, it is imperative that this issue be recognized and addressed.

There are useful strategies to practice gender and development awareness in daily life. It entails establishing a respectful environment for both genders and equally allocating responsibilities among family members. Schools can establish harassment-free zones, and communities can gain from campaigns promoting gender equality. Policies that alleviate salary disparities and advance equal opportunities can be implemented in the workplace.

Even after decades of activism for women’s and children’s rights, societal prejudices and cultural barriers still exist. It’s critical to realize that promoting women’s rights ought to center on achieving gender equality rather than superiority.

Addressing transgender and LGBTQIA+ issues necessitates sensitivity and understanding, transcending traditional cultural norms to recognize and respect the rights and dignity of all, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Adopting this inclusive mentality promotes a community where everyone is valued and celebrated, enriching society via individual variety appreciation.

What makes gender equality crucial? For a society to be just and fair, gender equality is essential. It allows for the full participation of all individuals in society’s development, leading to diverse and comprehensive growth. Gender equality transcends being solely a women’s concern; it’s a fundamental societal issue with far-reaching implications that impact everyone, shaping the fabric of our communities and influencing the dynamics of our collective experiences.

To achieve this, education and awareness are vital. Communities must be educated on the importance of gender and development, encouraging local government units to implement more effective measures. This education should start from the grassroots level, ensuring that everyone understands the importance of gender equality and its impact on society.

The path to gender equality is challenging but necessary. Achieving this goal demands a collective effort from every sector of society, targeting the transformation of deep-rooted cultural norms and biases through united and deliberate actions. Through education, legal reforms, and grassroots movements, the country can continue to make strides towards a more equitable and just society for all.

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Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.

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