Women’s empowerment versus gender equality

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Gender equality is a human right. Nevertheless, all nations are being confronted with a constant gap between men and women in terms of having access to opportunities and decision-making power. Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation. Guaranteeing the rights of women and providing them with opportunities to reach their self-actualisation is of utmost importance not only for attainment of gender equality but also for fulfilling a vast range of international development goals. Empowered women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities, and countries, creating a ripple effect that is beneficial to everybody.
In this regard, it is noteworthy that women’s empowerment is an important aspect to achieve gender equality. It includes increasing a woman’s sense of self-worth, her decision-making power, her access to opportunities and resources, her power and control over her own life inside and outside her home and on top of all, her ability to effectuate change. Still, the gender issues are not concentrated on women alone; they are focused on the relationship between men and women in society. The actions and attitudes on the part of men and boys play a cardinal role in our attempt to achieve the gender equality.
The key areas of focus are education, health and safety as well as economic and political empowerment. Nations around the world have exerted and are still exerting due effort to promote gender equality in the above said areas, but globally, no nation has fully attained the gender equality. Even a highly developed country like the United States of America, which has set a very high value on human rights, is ranked by a recent World Economic Forum as the 19th in the world on its gender gap index. Although US is ranked higher in economic empowerment, the American women’s earning power remains to be approximately 20 per cent lower than men’s. Scandinavian countries are leading the world in the progress towards closing the gender gap whereas the nations from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia are identified as those where the greatest gender gap prevails. As Myanmar is a Southeast Asian country, it does not have very big gender gap.
In this regard, the Global New Light of Myanmar would like to quote our first lady as saying at the annual general meeting of Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation (MWAF) in her capacity as the honorary patron of MWAF that she would like to urge all the attendees of the meeting to find ways and means to empower the entire mass of Myanmar women in order that they can be given their due role in building a democratic nation.

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