Sun, Nov 26, 2017 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Gender equality benefits everyone

The results of a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) survey announced on Tuesday showed that women are greatly concerned about economic pressures and still face workplace discrimination.

KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), director of the party’s Women’s Department, said it was still striving to achieve equal salaries and opportunities for promotion.

This comes only three months after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 11 spoke at an international women’s summit in Taipei, where she highlighted the nation’s efforts to achieve gender equality, including passing amendments requiring companies to provide childcare and nursing facilities and working toward establishing better long-term care systems to reduce the burden of care on women.

Despite the assertions of many governments that they are working to tackle gender discrimination, problems persist around the world. The Guardian on April 20 last year reported that women account for only 4 percent of CEOs in the world’s top 500 companies.

The gender pay gap can only persist within a culture of secrecy, but many men are reluctant to acknowledge gender discrimination and see it as a threat to their own positions, the report said.

The first step to resolving these issues must therefore be to teach men that doing so would benefit everyone — men and women. Gender inequality could cost the global economy US$12 trillion by 2025 due to a number of factors, including the weaker spending power of women due to unequal wages and lost employment opportunities for both men and women when jobs are seen as appropriate for the opposite gender.

“According to the IMF, closing the gender gap in the labor market would raise the GDP of the US by 5 percent, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] by 12 percent, Japan by 9 percent and Egypt by 34 percent,” Sophie McBain wrote on the New Statesman Web site on Feb. 12, 2014.

“Men may face discrimination or disapproval when taking on career paths, caring responsibilities and activities traditionally reserved for women,” the Web site for the Australian state of Victoria says, adding that men account for only a small fraction of those working in childhood education and care, as well as in maternal and child healthcare.

Similarly, preconceptions about gender roles mean that men who want to do more to care for their own children are often restricted by outdated policies that prevent them from having a flexible schedule or taking extended leave. As a result, childcare responsibilities often fall on women, even when they are the busier spouse in their careers or the main earner.

“It remains harder for a man to be accepted as a kindergarten teacher than a woman to be accepted as an engineer,” former Icelandic minister of social affairs and housing Eyglo Hardardottir said in 2015.

Women who choose to stay in their careers after giving birth find themselves struggling to juggle career and home responsibilities.

On Wednesday, a female politician in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture was the subject of strong criticism after she brought her baby to a council session. Officials said Yuka Ogata had violated assembly rules as “visitors and observers” are not allowed on the floor. Ogata said she wanted to show how difficult it is for women to juggle careers and raise children, Japanese media reported.

Media agency Maxus said it solved the problem with agile working — allowing people to set their own hours and to work remotely.

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