Have you watched X-Men: First Class? The movie is a true film festival gem, but there was a certain line that really caught my attention. Picture a female CIA agent. She’s the sole witness of a case, but she has amnesia, and thus jeopardizes an entire CIA mission. Set in the 1960s, a male officer (in a room full of other males)responds to this incident by making it clear that “the CIA is no place for a woman.” Watch the video here (SPOILER ALERT):
As the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin once said, “[w]omen have been taught that, for [women], the earth is flat, and that if [they] venture out, [they] will fall off the edge.” Thankfully, however, society’s advanced since Dworkin said that.
If Dworkin were still alive, she would probably grin at the newest report of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, called UN Women. After all, planet Earth is one step closer to a world where your sex doesn’t define who you are. According to the United Nations’ report, girls are entering secondary school across the globe in larger numbers than ever before. In a sample of 40 countries, for example, the U.N. found that 17 now have nearly equal numbers of girls and boys enrolling in secondary schools. Whereas in 1991, there were only 76 girls for every 100 boys in primary school, today, there are 96 girls to 100 boys.
Symbol of gender parity
Education is crucial on the path to reaching gender equality and empowering women. Educating a person opens doors to new opportunities. Through education, people are able to earn more money and afford better medical care. Gender parity in schools is a monumental success on the road to 2015 – education enables women to escape the chains that hold them.
That said, we still have much to do in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals that pertain to the well-being of all women. The United Nations’ report puts it best:
“While there have been considerable gains … on many of the MDG targets, progress has been slowest on the gender equality dimensions of these targets — from improving maternal health and access to decent work to eradicating hunger. Often invisible or unacknowledged — but still pervasive — discrimination against women is at the heart of this slow pace of change.”
“Gender justice entails ending the inequalities between women and men that are produced and reproduced in the family, the community, the market and the state. It also requires that mainstream institutions — from justice to economic policy making — are accountable for tackling the injustice and discrimination that keep too many women poor and excluded.”
Women across the world are facing the brunt of issues such as poverty, lack of healthcare (especially perinatal healthcare to prevent unnecessary maternal mortality), physical and sexual violence and a lack of justice. To combat these obstacles, the United Nations has recommended some ideas in its report: allowing poor girls to go to school under subsidies, increasing the amount of female teachers at schools, and raising awareness about how crimes against women are wrong and punishable.
The world might not be able to reach every MDG or reach gender equality and fully empower its women by 2015, but we should still do what’s right – MDGs or not.
Brandon Woo is a happy high school student from Vancouver, BC. By working with Generation Development, he hopes to educate others about international development and learn more about the world too.