By Anita Slemdal Skarpas
Men and women are lucky to have equal opportunities today. Thanks to a long struggle towards gender equality, we can finally say that we are satisfied, we have reached equality and this is reflected in the way our societies function. It is great that women today have all the equality they need. Unfortunately there is something that sounds wrong with that idea, even though we can be happy to have come a long way in the struggle for equal opportunities, the reality is unfortunately very different. This is the reason why it is still important to discuss and fight for gender equality which is the exactly the goal of this edition of The Sundial and the V-Week as a whole.
There is nothing that engages more than injustice and inequality because we know it is unfair for somebody to be hindered from doing what they desire because of traits it is impossible to have any control over. Does it not make you angry that women still own 1% of the titled land in the world or that 70% of the 1.3 billion living in extreme poverty are women or girls? Well if that doesn’t, maybe the fact that women earn a lower salary for the same job as a man in nearly every occupation or that globally 1/3 women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime? This is why we cannot say that we have reached a local or global equality between men and women. Norway, which is considered one of the most equal countries in the world, still struggles with equal pay and a gender segregated labor market. As much as we would like to buy into the idea that we have reached equality, it is unfortunately not the case.
This is not to say that we are living in a world that is not improving and that the situation is hopeless. It simply means that we cannot say that this fight is over and we are satisfied quite yet. It means participating in discussions and trying to be a part of the solution for what has proven to be a global challenge. If you on the other hand don’t agree, you have an even greater incentive to participate in the events throughout this week or read this issue of The Sundial; since the best way to learn is to talk to people you disagree with or read articles by people you disagree with.
I would like to end with a quote from one of my favorite books “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. “Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. A partition separated the two groups. Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering.”
The reason for giving men and women equal opportunities are many so decide to advocate for this important cause by being a part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.