- ABOUT SAY NO
- AROUND THE WORLD
- THE ISSUE
- TAKE ACTION
by Anna Colgan
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Leeds, England, currently studying Sociology (BA).
Studying sociology, and at times politics, over the last few years has opened my eyes to the persisting and varying inequalities around the world.
I hope with my continuing understanding of the subject of sociology, which I wish to continue into a masters and if possible PhD, I can create change.
I hope to conduct my own research into gender inequalities nationally and worldwide, with the view of this research influencing policy. Individual and collective actions to help make change are essential. They portray powerful messages and signs of bravery and commitment for those driving for change and should not be overlooked.
However I also recognize the importance of these changes becoming grounded in policy. This ensures the implementation of change and reduces the risk of progress becoming undone. Therefore I see a need for governments to co-ordinate more with organisations, such as A Safe World for Women. This, along with increasing empowerment of women can help make the steps towards fundamental change.
'My Community, My Life’
Having grown up in a relatively privileged background my gender has not noticeably impaired my progress; yet this relative ease has increased rather than diminished my awareness of others’ in my community, and the world, whose lives are limited due to their gender. Looking within my own family my mother faced gender bias during education, subsequently affecting her life opportunities.
Her two brothers studied at private schools, went to Oxbridge and now hold professional, secure jobs. In contrast, after being educated in a convent school my mother gained a place at a lesser-regarded university, leading to a less prestigious career. She works part-time in two jobs and is currently facing redundancy due to government cuts, which will impact significantly upon the instable, and predominantly female, jobs.
Evidently she is luckier than many women of her generation; she did gain a degree and has found work (I would put this down to her middle class advantage), however the gender bias is still paramount. Thankfully over the last few decades changes have occurred allowing many to succeed regardless of gender.
Nonetheless, there exist clear disparities between the number of women achieving highly in education, and the number in high end jobs, on equal pay as their male counterpart. Equality is far from achieved.
Yet, in comparison to the societal position of many women around the world, these inequalities appear insignificant. On a recent trip to Kenya I observed that women were expected to walk over 6 miles a day to gather water whilst their husbands stayed at home. This is not to say the men were malicious, but it does show that such gendered ideas are entrenched in their values.
Still, these issues seem immaterial when compared to countries where women face constant attacks on their rights – whether this be a right to education, freedom of speech or the right to safety. International Women’s Day is a perfect opportunity to implement the advancement of such rights through raising awareness and increasing education about gender equality.
It should also be taken as an opportunity to celebrate the gradual progress spreading around the world.
Assignment by Anna