Table of Contents
Gender discrimination has become a thorny issue in many societies both in the developed and in the developing world. Gender discrimination refers to the people’s actions, whether intentional or unintentional, which prevent or selectively allow other people to access and enjoy basic rights on the basis of their gender. Gender in this case refers to the specific roles that differentiate between the male and female gender. Gender roles are usually defined by societal and biological influences. This paper acknowledges the fact that gender discrimination, especially against women, still exists even in this 21st century. Both men and women from different parts of the world have been victims of gender discrimination. However, gender discrimination tends to be more prevalent among the women. As far as gender is concerned, people have been denied access to some basic human rights based on their gender. The root of gender discrimination in many societies is the belief that men are superior to their female counterparts. These are beliefs that have been propagated by religion and traditional beliefs. Man has always been depicted as the head in many situations and a woman as the helper. From Christianity, for instance, the woman is believed to have been created out of the man’s rib to provide man with help and companionship. Cultural practices have also defined gender roles that have given a woman a subordinate role. This topic on gender discrimination is of great importance owing to the fact that we live in the world that continues to struggle with the problem of gender discrimination. It highlights the forms of gender discrimination that women and men have been subjected to. This paper examines gender discrimination among both men and women. In addition, the paper discusses effects and solutions to gender discrimination in societies.
Section 1: Forms of Gender Discrimination against Women
As it has already been mentioned, women have suffered more as far as gender discrimination is concerned. Women have suffered almost all forms of gender discrimination unlike the men who have been on the receiving end only on a few occasions. Sexual harassment stands as one of the major forms of gender discrimination. Many women from different parts of the world have been victims of sexual harassment at different places. Women, for instance, have had a hard time in educational institutions and work places. According to Herrbach & Mignonac (2012), girls often have been exposed to sexual aggravation both by their mentors and their male counterparts. In these two places, women are often asked for sexual favors in exchange for one thing or another. Sexual harassment has been rampant in many places becoming one of the major issues that have been a source of physical and emotional stress among the women. Reports of sexual harassment are more rampant in the African continent, especially in schools.
Gender discrimination is also pronounced through the unequal access of basic rights, such as education and job opportunities. Whereas women’s population in most parts of the world is usually higher than that of the men, access to education does reflect it. In some communities, girls outnumber the boys only during the early years of school. However, as they advance through school, the number of girls drops significantly (Herrbach & Mignonac, 2012). In most cases, when there is a shortage of resources, as is the characteristic of the developing world, the limited resources are usually reserved for the male children. Consequently, most girls are forced to abandon their studies without necessary life skills that can help them to be independent. In most societies, such as those in the Arab world, gender roles work against girls (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2011). In such societies, girls usually take care of a lot or responsibilities, especially at home, which consumes most of their school time. As far as access to employment is concerned, women are usually ruled out on claims of lack of qualifications (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2011). Although they may have the necessary qualifications, they may still miss jobs with employers claiming lack of some personal attributes that are crucial in those vacancies. This is a form of gender discrimination that goes unreported in most cases yet it affects many communities in the world. Male dominance in areas, such as engineering, shows how women face discrimination as far as job opportunities are concerned.
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Leadership is yet another area, in which women experience gender discrimination. This is evident in the political arena, where women hold very few elective positions. This is an area, where discrimination against women remains unexplained (Herrbach, & Mignonac, 2012). In many countries, the electorate leaves out on electing women in favor of their male counterparts. This has gone a long way in discouraging women from vying for elective posts, making politics a male-dominated area. In most cases, women have been reserved subordinate positions, which do not allow them enough space to make an impact in leadership. Although many countries are trying to increase the number women in elective and nominative positions through the affirmative action, women’s representation in leadership positions, especially in politics, is still low.
Gender discrimination is also witnessed when it comes to the ownership of property. Women face great opposition in property ownership with many communities denying women the right to own and/or inherit property (Jiang, Li, & Feldman, 2011). With women owning as little as one percent of the total property, they lack free access to the basic means of production. This prevents women from being economically empowered making them the biggest percentage of poor people in the world. Most communities in Africa and the Middle East have put many obstacles on the property ownership, especially land. The few women who own various means of production mainly engage in production for subsistence purposes. Although activism has eased the situation slightly, the changes that have been realized are still not enough.
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Women in some communities have also been subjected to gender discrimination because of their dressing. Gender discrimination against women based on their dressing has been rampant in the Muslim communities and some conservative Christian communities. In these societies, the larger community dictates the dress code for women with the men making the main decisions. Women who defy dress code that has been set are usually punished severely. In fact, many cases have been reported from the Muslim communities on women being stripped in public for dressing in ways that are perceived as inappropriate in those communities. In these communities, women do not have the freedom to choose what they prefer to wear because they have to stick to the communities’ set standards. This form of discrimination has also been reported among the Hindu communities but it has not been too strict as in the Muslim communities. In the Muslim communities, this form of gender discrimination has taken a new twist because women are now being threatened by militant groups.
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Section 2: Gender Discrimination against Men
A few men have also complained of gender discrimination in some occasions. Although gender discrimination against men is subtle, it is true that it also exists. In many legal tussles involving both the male and female genders, the male gender has faced gender discrimination of some degree (Jiang, Li, & Feldman, 2011). For instance, in divorce cases men tend to lose more than the women do when they separate. Divorce laws tend to protect a woman at the expense of a man. In the event that the two have children, a man always has to take care of the children’s upkeep even when the woman is also working. Gender discrimination against men is also evident when it comes to the custody of the children. The woman always has the upper hand when it comes to the child custody.
Just like women, male members in society have also been agonized by various forms of violence. This violence includes, but is not limited to sexual violence and domestic violence (Rainer, 2008). Despite the suffering that some men have gone through, most of them have been forced to endure silently. This is contrary to women who have received overwhelming support of protection and help them recover from various forms of violence. Although men have also started organizations to take care of the welfare of men, many people do not see the need for such a move. In fact, such moves have been ridiculed in societies, such in Africa, where cultural beliefs are still strong. In such areas, men who are victims of violence suffer silently despite the existence of organizations that can help them through such problems (Rainer, 2008). Most of these men choose to suffer silently for fear of being ridiculed. The law, on the other hand, does not offer men the much-needed protection, which women enjoy. Young boys continue to suffer sexual violence in cruel forms. Many young boys have been molested and raped by people who were supposed to protect them (Rainer, 2008).
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Men have also risen complains on the setting of qualifications on selection and placement in certain programs. Since women have always championed for equal opportunities in all areas, men have in turn argued that the required qualifications should also apply for both the male and female genders. However, this has not been the case in all situations. Women have been given fairer terms in some programs, such as educational programs. This has been done in a bid to attract women to apply or enroll in such programs. This has made men raise concerns over the same as they complain that this move is a compromise on quality. The same men argue that this move is unfair to them given that they may miss opportunities despite having better qualifications. However, parties that have resorted to this measure, especially institutions of higher learning, have defended the measure on grounds that it is a means of empowering women. This measure is being used particularly to attract women to pursue carriers that were previously male-dominated.
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Section 3: The Effects of Gender Discrimination
With gender discrimination persisting even in this 21st century, it has come with an enormous number of negative effects. Many communities around the world glorify the male child making him more desirable to get male children. This has led to a situation, where mothers avoid bearing female children and therefore resort to terminating their pregnancies. China is one of the countries that have hit the news for all the bad reasons, as far as this issue is concerned (Jiang, Li, & Feldman, 2011). Most of the parents in communities that prefer boys view a girl child as a source of material wealth. In these societies, young girls are married in exchange for material gains. In many Africa communities, for instance, parents who have girls continue trying until they get a boy. For this reason, such families have big numbers of children, more than they can manage to provide for comfortably.
Gender discrimination is also responsible for the widening rift between the male gender and female gender. Women and men in some societies have been forced to fight for resources. Such contacts in most cases have resulted into ugly scenes. With the women being locked out from opportunities and basic human rights, they may perceive the men as people who are out to oppress women (Jiang, Li, & Feldman, 2011). Men, on the other hand, have also continued to experience some forms of gender discrimination that have created a divide between men and women. These factors continue to create an atmosphere of suspicion in the relationship between men and women. The atmosphere of suspicion creates a distance between men and women, which has been demonstrated many times as both parties come out to defend their rights and protest against gender discrimination.
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Section 4: Curbing Gender Discrimination
The efforts directed towards curbing gender discrimination have always been frustrated owing to the fact that many incidents of gender discrimination have gone unreported. Besides, in many cases victims of gender discrimination have found it hard to produce evidence to serve as prove that they have been victims. This notwithstanding, there are a number of measures that can be taken and have been taken in a bid to curb gender discrimination.
Gender discrimination can be reduced significantly though proper legislation. Whereas many people have risen against gender violence, most of it has been the efforts of human activists. The efforts of these human activists would have more impact if they would be backed by the necessary laws. People tend to show more compliance and obedience to what is required of them as long as there is a legal basis. Therefore, the same should also be applied in this thorny issue of gender discrimination (Tsesis, 2012). Laws that spell out tough legal consequences of gender discrimination should be enacted. Although there are many laws on gender discrimination, very few of them have stiff penalties for people who propagate this kind of discrimination. Most people escape unpunished for committing crimes related to gender discrimination because the laws exist only on paper. More development would be achieved in the fight against gender violence if the existing laws would be implemented.
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Reporting cases of gender discrimination can also go a long way in curbing gender discrimination. Many cases of gender discrimination always go unreported, especially those involving the male gender. It is time when people realize that they cannot receive help if they do not come out to report to the relevant authorities. Many people only share about their experiences on gender violence with their friends, who are not in any position to offer help other than sympathizing. It has also been mentioned in this paper that most of the men choose to suffer silently whenever they become victims of gender discrimination. When cases of gender discrimination go unreported, the concerned authorities cannot get accurate statistical data on cases of gender discrimination that they can use to take the most appropriate remedial measures (Tsesis, 2012). These authorities cannot reach every victim and therefore victims should take responsibility, as they are the ones who stand to benefit from it.
Following the years of activism on human rights, gender discrimination has reduced significantly. However, it should be noted that gender discrimination still exists currently. Although laws have been formulated to eradicate gender discrimination by protecting the female gender, the implementation of these laws is not in full force. Even in the face of increased awareness, female members of society still continue to experience gender discrimination. The fight against gender discrimination against women has seen creation of organizations and institutions to carry out the work. However, a number of activists are of the opinion that some of these organizations have demonstrated some form of gender discrimination against men. In fact, complains that a male child is slowly being forgotten have been hitting the headlines lately. Therefore, as efforts are made to curb gender discrimination, if not to eradicate it completely, the concerned parties should strike a balance to ensure that both female and male genders are taken care of.