By Xingyu (Phyllis) Lu
The twenty-first century seems to be a perfect time to discuss the gender equality since 2000 years have passed since the origins of Western culture. In the ancient Greek society, the origin of Western culture, Greek women had very limited public lives, in particular, no political rights. Even though lots of effort has been put into resolving the stereotype that women are inferior to men, reaching equality between men and women still has a long way to go. In order for women to achieve equal participation in most aspects of their lives, international solidarity and tremendous hard work by women themselves are needed.
International solidarity is important since obstacles that women are currently facing are those that all humans are facing. The 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China 1995 was a milestone in the process of achieving women’s rights. Following the conference, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were created. Their implementation has been monitored and evaluated, mainly, by the UN Commission of Status of Women. In addition to that, many NGOs accross different countries of the world are working hard on projects that aim to empower women with skills to advance their leadership capacities and political participation. Most capacity building programs for women revolve around financial management, self-defence, and self-employment. The empowerment of women should be a priority on the agendas of all governments and civil society.
Education is the foundation for the empowerment of women. Being a woman with a certain degree of education provides practical skills to be self-sufficient. Education also develops women’s capacity for argument and advocacy which are needed to be able to forward gender issues in a male dominated environment. Women should study hard and be courageous to speak out when faced with gender discrimination and domestic violence.
It is true that women can benefit the whole society since they will give more attention to issues that are overlooked by male politicians such as building trust between people and their governments, violence against youth, and peace negotiations. The chances of women making big impacts in societies will be higher if women are actively involved in making political decisions. The day will eventually come where there is true international commitment and solidarity on the full and equal participation of women in public life.
Xingyu (Phyllis) Lu
Honours Actuarial Science, Statistics
University of Waterloo