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 created on: Friday, October 25th, 2013

Germany, global

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Gender equality – the situation today and a vision for the future

I grew up conscious of the feminist history and gender inequalities that prevail until today. In high school, my best friend and I intended to publish a book about the current situation of women’s suppression in the world. During my studies, I followed courses like “feminist classics” or “gender studies”. Looking back at the early stages of feminism, say the 19th century, it is easy to point out the great achievements for gender equality that have been made ever since. Even going back just one generation would lead to the same conclusion. For a woman with my background it is self-evident to have the right to vote, to enjoy primary and secondary education and to be free to decide on my career after finishing school. So why bother about gender equality any longer?

To answer this question, let me introduce myself to you. I’m Sarah, 25 years old, a vegetarian and interested in the arts, culture and more. When it comes to sports, I prefer yoga and dancing to team-sports like football. I can handle children; people other than my friends would describe me as introvert. I’ve got curves and long blond hair. Just before menstruation starts, my mood varies from euphoria to sentimental pessimism, while a few days later migraine and abdominal aches are my companions… Well, you get the picture. Traditionally, these are “female” characteristics and despite all knowledge and warnings, I tried to distance myself from this image throughout my life. Unconsciously, I tried to convince others of my “male” characteristics and of the fact that I was not such a “girlish” girl. In other words, I reinforced a world view that presents males (and what males do) as being superior over females (and what females do). Unfortunately, this idea is still deeply embedded in our culture. Think of video-clips, advertisement, party chats, but also professional life with unequal pay being only one example. Such subtle to bold discrimination is unacceptable.

This is why we need to keep on fighting with education, political regulations, art projects and on a personal level. We need to grow consciousness for such subtle, but omnipresent gender inequalities. Yes, we have come far from hundred or just 20 years ago, but let us not rest on these accomplishments. Rather, the history of gender equality should motivate people to take action. After all, it shows that great improvements are possible! I hope and strive for a future in which one’s gender is like eye-colour – not a criterion to base a judgement upon. Accordingly, humans’ diversity and a person’s uniqueness will be celebrated, instead of eliminating differences. Everyone will have a fair choice in how to design one’s life – family, career, both… In this future, people will look back at the 2010s, wondering about the great achievements for gender equality that have been made ever since.