10 Trends which reveal the reality behind gender inequality

You’ve no doubt heard about gender inequality but you may not be aware of the reality that women across the world face. What does “gender inequality” actually mean in real terms? Perhaps you may feel that in your part of the world it’s not an issue. Well, I beg to differ. Statistically speaking, women are more likely to be affected by a range of discrimination and abuse than their male peers due to their gender and the relationship between poverty and prevailing socio-cultural norms. Now, everything has a context and therefore social, cultural and economic factors must be taken into account but by being female – across the so-called “developed” and non-developing world, there are a range of trends that stick and which are unacceptable in the 21st century.

Here’s 10 trends which highlight and exemplify the shocking reality of gender inequality today.

1. Women are the hardest hit by poverty

Women are overall disproportionately affected by poverty. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), out of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty, women account for a disproportionately large amount of this figure. But what about in the “developed world”? What about mainstream society? Well, the UN’s research “The World’s Women” in 2015 concluded that in Europe women and girls were greater affected by poverty than men (53%).

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2. More girls leave school early and become illiterate than their male peers

Without an education, you’re more likely to remain trapped in the cycle of poverty and without a doubt, women and girls are the worst affected. Due to a combination of social, cultural and economic factors such as poverty and child marriage, many girls leave school much earlier than is required leaving them unable to gain a solid education and build their future.

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3. Females are more likely to experience sexual violence

We need to break the myth that sexual violence only affects women and girls. It DOES affect men but to a far lesser degree. Many women (as well as men) will also not report or speak out about sexual violence for fear of retribution of social stigma, but the figures we do have are shocking.

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4. Women are excluded from habitually male-led decision making

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling and it’s real. The lack of females in politics and high management positions is shocking as this ultimately means that women are excluded from decision making, meaning that half of the population remain under-represented in politics, finance etc. – you name it!

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5. Women earn less than their male colleagues for the same job

Not only are women more likely than men to work in undervalued, low-paid or vulnerable jobs but women are also on average paid less than men (ILO, 2012; UN Women, 2017). According to the World Bank, in most countries across the globe, women on average earn only 60-75% of what men do. This is a staggering phenomena in the “Western world” which many find hard to believe.

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6. Being female means you’re more likely to be sold into slavery

Human trafficking is a serious problem across the globe. Most victims of human trafficking are female and the numbers of girls being trafficked is increasing. Human trafficking of women and girls often involves sexual exploitation and is unimaginably detrimental to the psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, social, cultural and economical wellbeing of those affected.

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7. Women are more likely to die from natural hazards

When natural disaster strikes, women are once again at greater risk of harm. Women living in poverty (as usual!) are more likely to be affected than their male counterparts and remain incredibly vulnerable.

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8. Girls are more likely to be affected by HIV and AIDS than their male peers

51% of adults living with HIV are female (UNAIDS, 2015). What’s more, if we break down the figures by age, we find that young girls and women (aged 15 to 24 years old) are particularly vulnerable to infection (UNAIDS 2015; UN Women 2017). New infections amongst young women are higher than that of their male peers and with 45% of teenage girls in certain cases declaring that their first sexual experience was non-consensual, this may not come as a surprise for many people out there (UNAIDS, 2014).

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9. Women spend more time on unpaid housework and less on leisure than men

We may think this is a stereotype but it’s true. Across the world, in pretty much every country, each day men spend more time on leisure activities while women spend more time doing unpaid housework (OECD, 2017). Women take on the major burden of domestic and care work – even when they have a job of their own.

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10. Being born female means you’re more likely to be married as a child

Child marriage predominantly affects girls. Whilst boys can be affected, the numbers show that this is a far less common occurrence. Child marriage results in high numbers of young girls missing out on an education, financial independence and being subject to sexual, emotional and physical abuse. For girls of such a young age, childbirth can even mean death, as their young bodies cannot bear the physical burden.

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So there we are folks. The figures speak for themselves. Please, please – next time you hear someone harping on about “feminism” this and that as though it’s a man-hating phenomena, remind them of these facts. We must keep raising awareness and challenging socio-cultural norms which discriminate against women and perpetuate the marginalisation, exclusion and abuse of so many women – both closer to home and further afield.

Sources, credits and further information

A full list of sources can be downloaded here (PDF)

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12 quotes which illustrate why we need human rights education

Human rights are fundamental entitlements which (if respected) should help guarantee our physical, emotional, social, economic, cultural and spiritual wellbeing. Some of our key rights include the right to health, the right to a private life, the right to own property, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of belief, freedom from torture, freedom from arbitrary arrest and many more. These are rights which every human being is entitled to. Yet, how many of us really know what our human rights are? Perhaps you don’t think human rights are relevant to your life – well you’re wrong! We all need to be aware of our rights and stand up for or not just our own human rights but also those of our family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours, associates, communities and anyone in need.

Here’s 12 quotes from famous/significant figures (good and bad!) which illustrate just why we need to be aware of our human rights!

1. Knowledge is the gateway to power!

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2. Sometimes we’re not always taught what’s right

No one is born hating another person... People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,they can be taught to love,for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite..jpg

3. You may not be aware that your rights are being abused

As long as the oppressed remain unaware of the causes of their own condition, they fatalistically ccaept their own exploitation..jpg

4. You may have been taught to accept human rights abuses

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5. Education opens doors and allows you to think objectively

Let us remember- One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world..jpg

6. Once you learn your rights you’ll realise that rights can easily be abused

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7. But you need to know how to protect your rights

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed..jpg

 8. If you know, you can start demanding them!

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9. By learning about your rights, you are ultimately safeguarding yourself

Human rights education is...a process to equip people with the tools they need to live lives of security and dignity..jpg

10. You’ll also learn how to build peace with others

Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free..jpg

11. You’ll recognise both your rights and those of your neighbours

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 12.  Armed with knowledge you can march on and make a real difference!

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Dedication

This post is dedicated to the memory of Christopher William John Plant (d. 2017) – an inspiration to many and proof that one person with enough passion, will and dedication really can make a difference. You will be greatly missed forever more. May your spirit, energy and enthusiasm live on in all of us and may we make you proud, ameen.

Credits

Featured image: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Josh Estey, 2009 (CC)

Photos from Flickr – please visit for content licences

Editing and design: Elizabeth Arif-Fear

Would you pay tens of thousands of pounds for an incomplete degree? The UK government wants you to

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The UK is a very popular destination for overseas students. Despite the high cost of living, it’s a stable, safe and secure country with a variety of well renowned colleges and universities with high teaching standards. The UK comes only second to the USA for the number of international students it receives. International  students choose the UK because of its “reputation for having a quality higher education system” and the fact that UK based degrees are recognised worldwide, with students reiterating this as they report being satisfied with the quality of the HE system and their experiences according to a spokesperson for the organisation University UK.

Whilst the UK offers a high standard of globally renowned education, studying in the UK also comes with high fees. EU students pay the same tuition fees as UK based (national) students but non-EU international students fall into a different bracket. On average, an international student at undergraduate level will have to pay £11,987 per year to study in the UK. Certain courses such as medicine can cost four times as much for a non-EU student than those paying home or EU fees, totaling £35,00 a year in comparison to £9,000 at most for UK and home students and on top of this; course fees are not always fixed so they may be subject to changes during the course of your studies (see The Guardian/BBC).

Add on top of the course fees themselves additional costs such as air fare, the cost of purchasing everything you can’t bring over yourself and also considering the difference in currencies and standards of living in terms of relative pricing; it’s a pricey way to study. There are students that are either able to afford to come or be granted a governmental or non-governmental scholarship either in the UK or overseas yet international students are facing increasing visa restrictions.

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Harsh visa restrictions

In addition to high tuition fees, strict immigration regulations have been introduced which further affect current and potential international students. Back in 2012, the two year post-study work visas for graduates was eliminated. Post-graduation you are now permitted to stay for four months depending on your course. To stay longer you would require sponsorship to work or other means to stay in the UK. Now, as part of a government crackdown to cut down abuse of the system (“visa fraud“), further new restrictions affecting international students have been introduced amongst other changes to immigration policy in an attempt to lower the rate of EU and non-EU based immigration to the UK.

New restrictions affecting FE students for example now stipulate that non-EU FE students at UK public colleges can no longer work whilst studying (this was 10 hours a week and full time during holidays) (as of August 2015) and that they must first leave the UK in order to apply for a work visa to live and work in the UK after completing their studies (as of November 2015). In addition to this, one other particular group of students are at a huge disadvantage are HE international STEM students – those studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – who can no longer complete their training (as of July 2015).

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STEM Students – high fees, little training

STEM students are particularly interested in studying in the UK for the high quality of education which was quoted by 51% of students in a recent study (rather than the idea of “UK career prospects”) (see The British Council). According to Educating Beyond Borders, most HE international students choose vocational based qualifications, enrolling for courses which require “practical” skill based training within industries and professions for which they are studying to later work in. Vocational HR courses comprise skills based training required for trades and highly-skilled professions such as engineering and architecture and so such training is an essential part of their education. However, due to work restrictions affecting international students, STEM students cannot undertake this training. Without such crucial training, their studies are essentially incomplete. They don’t acquire the full training and qualifications which they pay tens of thousands of pounds for and which they need to be fully qualified professionals.

Regardless of their reason for choosing the UK as their place of study (whether for future career purposes or not), if students wish to come to the UK and they have funding, they should be able to come and expect to gain the full qualifications which they are paying or being paid to earn – subject only to their own personal ability to follow the course and adequately meet course requirements. Adding to that, students and graduates invest a significant amount of time, money and skills into the UK and its education system. They should be allowed to live and work in the UK. It is grossly unfair to charge students such astronomical fees for incomplete training and on top of that to limit so strictly their ability to stay in the UK.

These policies are simply part of a wider “attack” on international students who – as another “source” of migration figures for the government – represent another “target” for its immigration campaign. The government is desperately trying to cut the number of people coming to the UK at all costs – regardless of the affect on the UK culturally, academically, socially, professionally, politically and economically and regardless of the UK’s moral and ethical responsibilities. The UK government has figures it wants to cut without further deeper consideration – down to 100,000 to be precise. Yet the fact is that even the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has himself “warned” David Cameron about the affect that a decrease in the number of overseas students numbers “risks jeopardising Britain’s reputation abroad” and – as a government insider told Channel 4 News – of some STEM departments being closed down at certain universities due to a lack of economic viability without the income generated from overseas students.

Philip Hammond has therefore called for international student figures to be left out of migration figures as it causes “immense damage”. I’d add that whilst this is a clear yes – we must do this – the wider problem is the government and their immigration policy itself which is devoid of common sense and mercy. The UK government’s immigration policy is what is what is doingimmense damageto Britain as a whole in many different ways. That’s another long story for another day but let’s just think briefly about its treatment of EU migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The UK has a fantastic reputation for both tolerance and multiculturalism and for its high standard of education. We must remove students from such net migration figures but we must also fight to change overall migration policies and attitudes – within and outside of politics.

Campaigning

So, what can we do in practical terms to help STEM and other overseas students?

Education is freedom; it’s empowerment, it’s independence, it’s people’s future. Education is vital – it’s a human right and should be open to everyone regardless of nationality, background or economic status. Astronomical university fees is another big issue (as is harsh immigration controls) but whilst the campaign is rolling: let’s fight to get these students what they’ve paid for. It’s their right. Speak out and get signing!

Salam!

Sources and information:

ICEF Monitor (2015) UK Confirms Elimination of Work Rights for Non-EU Students in Higher Education

Study London (2016) Working in London and The UK

The British Council (2015) UK Education Top Attraction for International STEM Students

The Complete University Guide

Top Universities (2015) How Much Does It Cost to Study in the UK?

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UK CISA)

Universities UK

Image credits:

FreeImages.com/Aaron Murphy

FreeImages.com/Holger Dieterich

FreeImages.com/Gozde Otman

FreeImages.com/Dan MacDonald