Tackling gender discrimination …Give boys, girls equal opportunity to thrive

Tackling gender discrimination …Give boys, girls equal opportunity to thrive

Boys and girls deserve an equal opportunity to thrive

Every girl and boy deserves an equal chance to survive and thrive, yet gender discrimination, continues to rob them of their childhood and limit their potentials.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) defines gender discrimi­nation as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the rec­ognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Gender discrimination has the tendency to deny girls their rights, kept from school, forced to marry and subjected to violence while her voice is undervalued. This assault on childhood also deprives nations of the energy and talent they need to progress.

Both boys and girls face unequal gender and social
norms regarding expectations and access to resources
Both boys and girls face unequal gender and social norms regarding expectations and access to resources

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), boys also suffer from gender norms. Notions of masculinity can fuel child labour, gang violence and recruitment into armed groups. No matter where it prevails, or how it manifests, gender inequality harms every member of society.

An International Organisation, Save the Children says, it will take over 200 years to achieve gender equality, and that is just in the Unit­ed States of America (USA).

The organisation therefore describes as unacceptable, adding that together, we can create a more equal world, right from the start.

What are the causes of gender discrimination?

Gender discrimination begins from childhood. From the moment girls and boys are born, they face unequal gender norms as well as social norms regarding expectations and access to resources and oppor­tunities in their homes, schools and communities.

For example, girls are most of­ten made to carry or do household chores with the notion of preparing them for future marriage, pregnancy and caring for their children while the boys are often encouraged to go to school and get an education to prepare for work.

This tendency often leads to child marriage and pregnancy among girls.

Effects of gender discrimination

In Ghana, gender discrimination among boys and girls exposes them to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and vio­lence.

Girls are more likely than their male counterparts to drop out of school, marry at an early age, and experience challenges in their sexual and reproductive health and rights. They are also more likely to be exposed to violence and exploited in child labour.

Way Forward

Gender equality is a basic right for all people, including both girls and boys, it is therefore critical for Ghana to directly address gender discrimination in order to ensure that no harm comes to children while ensuring that every child attains their equal right to grow up healthily, educated and safe.

Gender equality is essential to close the inequality gaps including those who are most vulnerable.

To build a more equal, inclusive future, free from gender discrimina­tion, Ghana needs to start in child­hood.

Also according to Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA), a social drive campaign for the protection of children and also aimed at re­ducing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, gender in­equalities were drivers of many child protection violations.

They begin with boys’ and girls’ socialisation in the family, school or community which encourages them to follow specific cultural norms and roles deemed appropriate for their gender.

The gendered socialisation can mean that girls are expected to do more domestic work, not get as much or as quality schooling as boys, to marry younger, be less mobile, or tolerate physical and sexual abuse.

Conversely, it can mean that boys are expected to be more aggressive, violent, mobile, unruly and respon­sible for and capable of making money, having a job, etc.

GACA said it is the role of fam­ilies, schools and communities to ensure boys and girls grow up with more gender equitable roles and practices, and achieve gender equi­table outcomes in protection, safety and life opportunities.

According to UNICEF, Gender equality means that girls and boys enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. In 2021, UNICEF ushered in a new gen­der policy (2021–2030) articulating its vision for gender equality in its programmes, as well as at workplac­es and practices, around the globe.

The Gender Action Plan (2022– 2025) charts UNICEF’s way forward with a series of time-bound results that deliver lasting, transformative change for children, adolescents and women worldwide.

UNICEF and other internation­al organisations are working with partners in Ghana on a variety of educational initiatives including the development of gender-responsive school curricula; gender training for education professionals to help elim­inate gender discrimination.

Conclusion

Tackling gender discrimination in boys and girls is a collective responsibility for all Ghanaians. It is therefore important for individu­als, organisations and governments to take deliberate steps to achieve gender equality for all irrespective of one’s gende

 By Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu

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