In this article, we wanted to share how women’s efforts in the civil rights movement benefit all–including ethnic minorities who are often oppressed by the same root-cause.
A common assumption is that feminism benefits only women. But countries that are the most patriarchal, where men hold power, are really bad places for minorities. Where women have a strong voice, minorities are materially better-off.
Gender equality makes everyone better off on all dimensions!
How the fight for gender equality parallels the fight for race equality
Studies show that people who do not support gender equality are more likely to express hostility towards minorities within their own country.
Gender inequality and discrimination are peas in a pod! Women and other minorities have long suffered from the same concerns:
Low social status, limited employment opportunities, lower pay for work of equal value, poverty, high illiteracy rates, poor access to health care and education, street harassment, lack of a voice in the political system, inability to get justice when wronged, and being trafficked into slavery.
Both have been targets for the disrespect, bigotry, hostility, and anger of those who consider themselves “superior beings”. Both have been harassed, threatened, and even killed for no reason other than their minority status.
How women have fought for the oppressed
Perhaps because we have shared so much pain, because we have suffered from the same issues, women have fought for centuries for the rights of the oppressed.
All over the world, women have successfully staged mass actions, and they have mobilized public opinion campaigns to support progress and to assist the marginalized. Indeed, women have probably organized more mass action campaigns in support of change than any other social group.
Women have worked tirelessly against discriminatory laws. They have campaigned for decent wages, fair hours, overtime pay, paid sick days, and family / parental leave time for everyone, as well as for the elimination of pay gaps between men and women and between white employees and non-white ones.
To paraphrase the famous African-American author, professor, feminist, and social activist, Bell Hooks, “feminism is about fighting against sexism, exploitation, and oppression – which hurt everyone.”
Feminism is about leveling the playing field for all
Women’s rights are human rights. Improving the status of women improves the well-being of the entire human race.
Feminism is about fighting for fairness and justice – which benefits everyone.
Feminism is about leveling the playing field; it is about equality for everyone!
Feminism is increasingly being defined as liberation for all people because it makes everyone better off on all dimensions.
Everyone benefits from gender equality … it is up to everyone to make it happen.
Women’s rights are human rights
Improving the status of women improves the well-being of the entire human race.
Everyone benefits from gender equality … it is up to everyone to make it happen.
“Purdah” is derived from a Persian word. It refers to the custom of “concealing” females behind walls, or a veil/curtain, which is practiced throughout the Middle East. Next the headscarf is used by the majority of women in most Middle Eastern communities – be they Muslim, Christian, or of any other faith. Even Western women visiting these countries may be required to wear one. That is the reason for the picture to accompany the text.
Next, read the first slide very carefully – those restrictions have been historically used in EVERY patriarchal community, globally. This is NOT a statement about any particular faith – it IS a statement about patriarchal beliefs, which cross all cultures, religions and nations, and how they limit the abilities of women to function like free human beings, regardless of race, colour, religious belief, or national origin.
If you have been reading our cartoons, you know we have been discussing patriarchal behaviours throughout history and across all cultures. Prior cartoons have referred to the Middle East and the headscarf. For example:
No one wrote to us saying we were being discriminatory for these depictions.
Many of our cartoons have used, without comment, other identifiable minorities as part of the message being shared, which is that we are against oppression, prejudice, and bigotry; we are for justice, equality, and fairness.
So, we would appreciate it if you would think before you pull the trigger on us with some accusation of bias towards any particular group.
How equality and diversity create equal opportunities and well-being for children
Countries that are the most patriarchal, where men hold the power, are really bad for children.
By contrast, gender equality makes life better for our kids. It is proven that parity between the sexes makes kids happier, improving their mental and physical health, relationships, welfare, education, and well-being.
Studies using global databases reveal that in more gender-equal countries children enjoy the following benefits:
Better overall health and improved well-being
Gender parity and sharing household chores, including childcare, leads to better health and well-being for everyone as measured by positive results achieved wrt family factors such as welfare, happiness, life-satisfaction, mental health and depression, self-harm behaviors, need for medication, divorce, fertility, drug use, domestic violence, longevity, suicide, and violent deaths.
Both sexes report that they are more satisfied with life, that they have better and happier relationships with their spouse, and their children. They also report more happiness and freedom, better work/family balance with their partners, more parental leave time, and more societal encouragement to bond with their children. They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression or to be put on medication, less likely to be violent towards family members or to engage in self-harm. Parents smoke less, drink less, do drugs less often. As a result, children are subject to less violence (to themselves or another family member). They experience reduced family friction and more positive interactions, both inside and outside their homes.
Adolescent boys in more gender-equal countries have fewer psychosomatic complaints, are less anti-social, and are more likely to practice safe sex and to use contraceptives. Adolescent girls are empowered to pursue an education, rather than early marriage, with all the many benefits that confer on themselves, their family, and their children. Teens in countries with higher levels of gender equality, where social norms are likely to support both parents’ involvement in childcare, report higher levels of life satisfaction than teens in countries with lower levels of gender equality.
In summary, children in more gender-equal societies enjoy greater family/social stability, happiness, health, enhanced well-being, greater opportunities, and safety than those where gender inequality is the rule.
Improved quality of life
If a child lives in a more gender-equal country, they have a much high quality of life than those living in less gender-equal countries. Countries with gender parity have better economies, more social spending, healthier citizens, more peace, and less violence – all characteristics that create societal conditions that benefit children significantly.
Decision-making is more representative
… and is thus reflective of collective interests, including reduced poverty / enhanced food security / better social services.
More gender-equal societies have stronger and wealthier economies. As a consequence, families score higher on economic well-being due to greater opportunities/prosperity, enhanced food security, and increased spending on social services, education, healthcare, and development. Reduced rates of poverty and enhanced educational opportunities, as well as proper healthcare and nutrition, benefit children significantly.
Gender inequality is a significant predictor of state instability and fragility, according to a quantitative analysis of 171 countries. By contrast, higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. It also results in a reduced likelihood of state-perpetrated political violence—fewer killings, forced disappearances, torture, and political imprisonments. As a result, children are less likely to be injured or die in a war or due to internal political violence.
Empowering women politically and economically, so that they have a voice in the decision-making process, makes community policies more reflective of all members’ interests. Gender equality is positively correlated with policies that lead to the rule of law and improved judicial systems. It is associated with greater stability, as well as increased investment in education and health, the support of public institutions, higher levels of trust in government, more public goods such as clean drinking water, and enhanced child care (e.g., school lunches and family leave time). These are all social characteristics that positively impact the health, welfare, and well-being of a community’s children.
When women have greater control over family resources, more income, and financial independence, they can increase household spending on children’s nutrition, health, and education. This change in spending patterns means more resources reach children, benefitting them materially.
Gains in women’s education and health have also been shown to result in better outcomes for children. It should be noted that increased educational opportunities account for about 50% of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years.
Furthermore, the longer girls stay in school, the lower the child marriage rate becomes. This leads to better results for a country’s girls as well as improved family planning, better maternal health (good in itself for any child), and better care for a family’s children:
Each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5-10%.
Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are 2x as likely to survive beyond age 5 compared to those whose mothers have no education.
Improvements in women’s education explained 50% of the reduction in child deaths between 1990 and 2009.
A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5.
The number of families in poverty also decreases, as educated women wait longer to get married and have fewer children.
Better family structure
Family planning improves quality of life. Gender equality has led to reproductive control, providing the ability to space the birth of each child, which benefits the whole family. Both parents can hold-off on having children until they are mentally and financially able to cope with caring for a family. Mothers are healthier, less exhausted, and better enabled to care for their children. Fathers experience a better relationship with their spouse, and more freedom and empowerment for themselves.
Children tend to be wanted and can be better cared for as there are more resources available to raise them. As well their parents are better prepared for their arrival and have enhanced time and energy to devote to their care.. When women are not empowered to make decisions about when to have a child, the quality of that child’s life declines significantly, while their risk of mortality climbs steeply. Children born less than two years apart are twice as likely to die in the first year of life as children born further apart. Being unable to spread out pregnancies also interferes with breastfeeding, which has a crucial role in child nutrition.
Elimination of toxic stereotypes
Feminism makes it possible for children to be liberated from the traditional stereotypes which hurt both sexes.
Freedom from pressure to fit stereotypes means that a child is free to grow up to be who they are, not who the patriarchy dictates. They are empowered to show a wider range of emotions, and other characteristics, and to choose a career which better expresses their inner self since jobs are no longer sex-typed.
Being liberated to express oneself and to pursue activities that bring self-fulfillment is one of the key benefits which gender equality confers on our children.
Better relationships within their family
Men have enjoyed better and more enriched relationships with their children because feminism has led to improved family leave for workers of both sexes, combined with growing recognition of how harmful patriarchal stereotypes have been to us all, and leading to social acceptance of males playing a greater part in parenting and a more important role in their children’s lives.
In countries with high gender parity, where men share in housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier. Their children do better in school (lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement, less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD) and are less likely to need psychiatric care/medication. Men also get to experience the joy of increased bonding with their children. Today, in Western societies, fathers spend triple the amount of time with their kids than they did in 1965. Without feminism, this hugely rewarding aspect of being a father would not exist.
Assault is destructive of childhood. Surveys show a clear correlation between the level of gender equality and the frequency of violence in a family – when the level of gender equality in the childhood home is high, the level of physical violence is low. This applies to violence against children as well as to violence between partners. And the finding is dramatic: Gender equality in the home reduces the risk of violence against children by almost two-thirds.
Sexual assault is as damaging to boys as to girls, and too often occurs within the family. Gender equality has given survivors of such violence a voice, leading not only to therapy to reduce trauma, but to a reduction in the incidence of such assaults on children.
Gender equality is in the interest of children since it gets them something they want – happier, safer, and healthier lives, combined with a deeper and more meaningful relationship with other family members. Such a connection with another human being is recognized to be one of the key goods for achieving happiness in life.
In summary, the Patriarchy injures families and children by imposing toxic stereotypes and behaviours on them. By contrast, in countries with gender parity, families make healthier reproductive choices, which improve their lives. They are then able to better care for the children they do choose to have. Having equal pay with men, women can provide better healthcare, better food, and better opportunities for their kids. But, if a mother does choose to stay at home with the children, the effects of gender equality (like equal pay and education) provide a safety net in case she needs to work. Studies also show that infant mortality rates decrease as a woman’s education level increases.
If we want our children to be better-off, then we need to dismantle the patriarchal system which has been, and continues to be, so damaging to families, to parents, and to children.
Parity between the sexes gives children a much better world – greater happiness, better education, and their health, relationships, safety, welfare, opportunities, and overall well-being are materially improved.
In a world with gender equality, children are set up for success and happiness!
We owe it to our kids to give them that better world.
Everyone benefits from gender equality … it is up to everyone to make it happen.
For this post, we referenced studies by:
• Kilden genderresearch.no
• World Health Organization
• Journal of Marriage & Family
• Journal of Happiness Studies
• European Research Council
• UN Women
• Global Partnership for Education
• Australian and UK government
We recently shared some stats that demonstrate what happens when women are allowed a seat at the table. Here’s a perfect example of what we’re trying to say …