Knocking Down the Hurdles of Gender Inequality

Knocking Down the Hurdles of Gender Inequality

1/7/17

Before any big race, good runners train hard to optimize their strength, stamina, and mental toughness. They think through the race course and figure out ways to overcome challenging sections, maximize their performance and optimize their chances for a great run.

Women and girls run great races just like men and boys do. But globally, most women and girls have to work harder than men and boys do to achieve the same goals. We’re not just talking about foot races either.  Girls have to work harder and clear more hurdles in all aspects of life that put them at a disadvantage.

These include traditions that keep girls and women at home, out of school, away from friends or mentors, eating least and last, and being told they are incapable of making decisions or contributions at home or in their communities. Too many girls grow up believing these hurdles are inevitable and right. All around the world, women and girls are hobbled by unfair discrimination that keeps them from running their best races.

The biggest hurdles are poverty and everything that comes with it – hunger, poor health, increased vulnerability to violence and more, all of which impact women and girls disproportionately.  And when you hold back women and girls, you hold back whole families and communities. 

But we at CARE know from experience that the reverse is also true: empowering women and girls lifts up not just the individual, but the lives of those they touch. The key to eradicating poverty and creating a secure, healthy and just world is to tear down gender equality barriers. When men and women work together to change unfair systems, we see real transformative change that lasts.

That’s what our “Walk In Her Shoes” campaign is all about and why we’re asking you to take action with us. 

This campaign is a call to action that encourages everybody to think critically about gender equality and to talk honestly about the hurdles women have to overcome. We’re also highlighting the gains we have already made to level the playing field for women and men. And perhaps most important, this campaign is an opportunity for everyone to talk about the gaps that still exist and the work we have in front of us. 

We are at a critical moment. We’re seeing differences and disparities more clearly and recognizing the impact that gender expectations have on both women and men; not just as individuals, but on families, communities and entire countries.

We are also facing enormous uncertainty about the current political climate and what it means for a meaningful agenda for women and girls. CARE is choosing to look at this time in history and the work in front of us as a tremendous opportunity to bring gender issues out in the open where we can look at them unflinchingly from all angles. 

We know we have allies on the Hill who are committed to making progress. We’re working every day to engage and educate incoming Administration and Congressional members who are just beginning to think about how gender discrimination and violence impacts poverty, humanity and security. 

We aren’t naïve about the challenges ahead. We’ve been asking ourselves some very sobering questions: Are we destined to be ruled by fear? Do we allow ourselves to give in to despair, divisiveness and anger?  Or… do we each take action, come together and get to work educating our communities and leaders to recognize how essential the contributions, leadership and lives of women and girls are? 

As CARE Action advocates, we choose the latter. We will Walk In Her Shoes.  We will talk about all the issues that make or break progress towards gender equality. We will keep working and marching because that’s what it’s going to take to make the world a better place for girls, women, boys, men and every human on earth.  

Keep your eyes on the CARE Action website for a calendar of events, a collaboration of partner organizations and a freshly stocked advocacy toolkit so you can join us no matter where in the U.S. or world you live.  We’re in this together! Now more than ever, we’re committed to making change happen.  

 

Doris Bartel

Gender Expert

CARE USA

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