Nearly two thirds of the world’s 781 million illiterate adults are women. Despite all the progress made over the past two decades, girls are still less likely to be enrolled in school than boys. Such inequalities remain deeply rooted, and in many societies girls’ education is not seen as a priority. According to UNESCO, if current trends continue 15 million girls estimated between the ages of 6 and 10 will never set foot in a classroom compared to about 10 million boys (UNESCO, 2021).
Women still face discrimination and inequality. They are confronted with abuse and unequal treatment at home, at work and in their wider communities – and are denied opportunities to learn, to earn and to lead. Women form the majority of those living in poverty. They have fewer resources, less power and influence compared to men, and can experience further inequality because of their class, ethnicity, age etc. Gender inequality is a key driver of poverty (Oxfam, 2021).
Oxfam understands gender justice as the full equality and equity between women and men in all spheres of life, resulting in women jointly, and on an equal basis with men, defining and shaping the policies, structures and decisions that affect their lives and society as a whole. Women taking control and taking collective action are the most important drivers of sustained improvements in women's rights, and are a powerful force to end poverty not only for women and girls, but for others too.(Oxfam, 2021).
As shared by the UN Women, we can contribute to gender justice in these ways:
- Share the care - commit to evenly sharing household chores, parenting responsibilities and other unpaid work.
- Call out sexism and harassment
- Reject the binary - repeat after me: It’s humankind. Not mankind.
- Demand an equal work culture
- Shop consciously - what you buy has a real impact on the environment and, in turn, on the lives of women and girls.
- Support businesses, initiatives by women and for women
- Teach girls their worth - encourage them to speak out and assert themselves.
- Challenge what it means to “be a man” - foster an environment where boys/men feel safe expressing their emotions.
- Commit to a cause - collective action can operate at every scale - nothing is too small.
- Challenge beauty standards - treat all bodies as equally valuable regardless of size, ability, or colour and call out body shaming when you see it.
- Respect the choices of others - every person has the right to make decisions about their body, well-being, family and future.