Any action that excludes or disadvantages people because of their gender is considered gender discrimination. It encompasses both purposefully unjust and accidentally unfair behaviour. Gender discrimination can affect anyone who identifies with a gender that their culture deems less desirable. 

Globally, gender inequality has a significant impact on mental health. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in women and persons of marginalised genders are only a few of the psychological repercussions of gender inequality. The effects of can take many different forms as a direct result of violence or prejudice based on gender. Indirect circumstances can also arise from exposure to socioeconomic disparity, persistent stress, and negative media messages.

In today’s world, where we see women leaving their mark in almost every sphere of the society, it is unbelievable to see many of them still struggling for equal rights.

Right to Equality is a fundamental human right and should be accessible to all, regardless of their gender. While the fight for gender equality began in Western countries with the suffrage movement in the late 19th century, in India, it did not start until 1975. Gradually, as a result of mobilisation and with little assistance from numerous civil society organisations, the idea of “Feminism” evolved in India, which claimed gender equality as a requirement and a right.

Over the past few decades, there has been progress: more girls are attending school, fewer are being coerced into early marriages, more women are holding elected office and other leadership posts, and laws are being changed to promote gender equality. Despite these advancements, there are still numerous obstacles to overcome, including the continued underrepresentation of women in political leadership positions and the prevalence of discriminatory laws and social norms.

However, on a scale of 146 nations, India still ranks 135 in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022. This results from the gender-based problems in our society, including discrimination against women, women lagging in educational achievement, the drop in political empowerment, and the gender disparity in economic involvement. 

The COVID-19 situation forced people to stay inside, and led to a high number of domestic abuse cases in the nation, at a time when the already-existing gender inequality was at its worst. Before we explore how gender discrimination affects a woman’s mental and physical health, let’s first understand what gender discrimination means.

What does Gender Discrimination Mean

Any action that explicitly denies chances, benefits, or rewards to a person (or a group) because of their gender is known as gender discrimination; it is also referred to as sexual discrimination. Gender discrimination occurs when someone’s gender is taken into account when choosing who receives an opportunity.

Impact of Gender Discrimination

Women and Men are both impacted by the multifaceted problem of gender inequality. Some of the impacts are listed below:

Women and Health

Despite the fact that sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, there have been situations where women have been compelled to terminate if the foetus is a girl. At the same time, a lot of girls get married in their teenage years which seriously jeopardises their health and well-being. Trafficking is another factor impacting women’s mental and physical health. These practices demonstrate that a woman lacks control over her body and her rights.

Child Marriage and Improper Family Planning

Girls are forced into marriage to start a family before they are 18. This is the outcome of families’ traditional, antiquated beliefs that education is solely for boys and girls are the ones who are intended to take care of homes. Early marriages lead many women to conceive when they are still too young to care for themselves or for their unborn child which further leads to an effect on their physical and mental health.

Employment Opportunities

Inadequate education brought on by gender disparity affects women’s economic status. Women with little or no education participate less in politics and societal affairs. Women politicians are more likely to consider welfare concerns, including child care, maternity health, and violence against women. These problems won’t be solved if the right amount of participation isn’t given.

A Ray of Hope to Beat Gender Discrimination

Gender equality is a fundamental right that applies to both boys and girls, men and women. Based on this knowledge, Save the Children believes that it is essential to address gender inequality and discrimination head-on to protect children from harm and to advance our vision for a world in which every child realises their inherent right to grow up with proper health, education, and safety.

To eliminate gender discrimination and guarantee that we reach every child, especially the most vulnerable, a focus on gender equality is necessary. To challenge inequality, it is essential to transform gender and power relations, as well as the institutions, customs, and beliefs that support them. Age, colour, socio-economic class, gender identity, geography, health state, and ability are all characteristics that contribute to vulnerability. Gender discrimination interacts with and worsen these other elements. Due to the dedication to advancing gender equality and empowering girls worldwide, Save the Children is working relentlessly to ensure that girls too get equal rights. We must begin at the childhood stage if we want to create a future that is more equitable, inclusive, and devoid of gender prejudice.

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