Imagine: A World Without Sexism
What is Sexism?
“Boys will be boys. It was just a drunken mistake. He didn’t mean anything by it.”
It is prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender, especially against women and girls. Sexism is a belief that one sex is superior to or more valuable than another sex. It imposes limits on what men and boys can and should do and what women and girls can and should do.
The concept of sexism was originally formulated to raise consciousness about the oppression of girls and women, although by the early 21st century it had sometimes been expanded to include the oppression of any sex, including men and boys, and transsexual and transgender people.
Sexism functions to maintain patriarchy through ideological and material practices of individuals, social groups, and institutions that oppress females on the basis of sex or gender. Such oppression usually takes the form of economic exploitation and social domination. Sexist behaviours, conditions, and attitudes perpetuate stereotypes of gender roles. For example, the attitude of “boys will be boys” to forgive physical and sexual misdemeanours.
When there are deeply embedded social and historical differences, there will likely always be an imbalance. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t strive to create an equal world where everyone is given opportunities and everyone is treated with the same respect as each other. Treating others how you want to be treated is a great way to go about life, but the world isn’t such an inclusive place that follows these ideals.
It’s also important to note that sexism isn’t a single issue: it is political, it is social, it is economic, it is historic, it is cultural, it is geographic.
Did you know that there is not a single country in the world, not one, where women have gender parity with men?
But what if there was no such thing as sexism?
What if everyone was treated equally in the world and we achieved a balance where both genders could co-exist, even co-nurture, with equal opportunities for all?
What if your sex was not used as a reason to hold you back because another sex is being favoured?
Sexism Around the World
“She’s pregnant again? She was only just on maternity leave two years ago.”
A century after women gained the right to vote across much of the world, the quest for equality continues with a renewed urgency. There is a fresh recognition that appearances are not all that they seem and that even within countries which claim they have “modern societies” there is still much social and institutional sexism.
Fortunately, many countries in the world are starting to admit that sexism is widespread in the world and something needs to be done in order to protect the interests of both sexes. For instance, Iceland is currently ranked number one in the world for gender equality because it politically embraces the idea of gender equality and has put systems and processes in place to support this. Whether it’s the support Icelandic women get from men regarding gender equality or the fact that women are actively exposing the reality of sexism by uncovering issues like harassment, abuse and discriminatory practices, it’s clear that gender equality is something that can be achieved and isn’t a myth buried under discrimination.
However, even in Iceland, there is not complete gender parity.
In Britain, gender equality hasn’t changed or improved in significant terms for the past decade. Britain is currently lagging behind other countries in Europe such as Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The UK is currently ranking alongside countries like Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
To start with, more women than men in Britain fully participate in daily house work such as cooking or cleaning. Conversely, in countries like Finland, more men are open to participating in daily chores which reduces the rate of gender inequality dramatically. Gender Pay Gap reporting in Britain shows that women are still penalised with lower salaries than their male counterparts. Even leading organisations such as the BBC have admitted to gender disparity issues. But while Britain isn’t exactly a shining example of gender equality, it pales in comparison to some of the worst offenders in the world.
The Worst Offenders
“I killed her. She was abducted as a child and became a prostitute. There was no place for her, a woman like that, when she escaped and found her way home.”
In some parts of the world like Iran, India and Afghanistan, women have a huge struggle ahead of them for equality. Domestic abuse is often prevalent and there are a high number of forced marriages. Afghanistan is even known as one of the most dangerous countries for women to live in due to the local laws and culture which frown upon women’s education amongst other things. However, some change is being made thanks to the bravery that some people and social groups are showing in order to support gender equality.
For example, up until 2016 in Pakistan, it was possible for a man to kill their sister, mother or daughter if they were caught engaging in an illegitimate sexual act and walk away as long as they received a pardon from the victim’s family. In Syria, this act would force the perpetrator to only serve two years in prison, whereas the penalty for murder would be 20 years of hard labour. It’s an example of a sexist law that was thankfully changed, but there are many similar laws around the world that put women in disadvantaged positions.
For example, women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to drive vehicles although the latest Crown Prince has declared that women will be allowed to drive from the summer this year. It’s the only country in the world where women cannot drive and where they need permission from a male guardian to even leave the country to go on holiday.
Surprising Facts Relating to Sexism
“She won’t be interested in the engine size. Tell her about the colour of the car or the flashy sound system and she’ll buy it.”
- Gender selective abortion in China, primarily due to years of the “one child” legislation, means that there are now significantly more men than women, meaning that there is a “shortage” of potential brides in the country.
- American women serving in Iraq or Afghanistan are more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by an enemy.
- In Cameroon a husband can stop his wife from going to work if he believes that it is not in the best interests of the family.
- The number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by anything from 100 million to 150 million people if the gender gap in agriculture was closed by giving women farmers more resources.
- Even today, according to English law, an employer can request a female employee to wear heels as part of her work attire, even if she doesn’t wish to wear them.
- In Britain, it is culturally accepted for a woman to bare her legs and wear a skirt to work, but it can cause quite a reaction when men bare their legs and wear, say tailored shorts, to work (and consequently very few men do).
- In Saudi Arabia, when queuing to be served in a store, a man will more often than not be served before a woman, even if she was further ahead in the queue.
A World Without Sexism
“He’s so authoritative, whereas she’s just bossy. He earned the job.”
Gender equality is about looking at the differences that we as a society have created and finding ways to eliminate those inequalities in order to give both sexes the ability to live the fullest lives that they possibly can.
If we imagine a world without sexism what would this look and feel like? Here are some of our imaginings:
- Women and men would receive fair pay - based on their skills and not their gender
- It would be as commonplace to see a female CEO as a male CEO
- Abortion rates in countries such as India and China would be dramatically reduced because girls would be as welcome as boys in to every family
- Women and men would be welcome and fairly represented in all walks of life; imagine, more women in science and more men in teaching
- There would be no violence against women anywhere in the world. None whatsoever
- There would be an end to “pink for a girl” and “blue for a boy”
- Children’s toys would not be determined by gender; trains and dolls for both boys and girls
- The World Cup would not be called the "World Cup" when it includes only men as its players; it would be the "Men's World Cup" alongside the "Women's World Cup"
How Shoes by Shaherazad is Contributing to a Gender Equal World
“We do not need miracles to change the world, we only need each other.”
Shoes by Shaherazad was created for a purpose. To provide women and girls living in poverty with opportunities for educational and financial independence. When empowered women empower other women, the world becomes a happier place.
Why girls and women if equality is the goal?
Inequality across the globe means that we have a long way to go in securing a stronger future for us all. Gender shouldn’t determine whether you get an education; sadly in many parts of the world it does. By addressing the inequalities which women and girls face, gender parity becomes a more likely reality.
Every pair of heels purchased from shaherazad.com directly does good deeds through the Solidarity by Shaherazad programme. When we provide funds for an empowerment project, it is having an impact to empower women within 60 days of the donation being made.
Every project we invest in is carefully selected to ensure that we provide women and girls with meaningful and sustainable futures. Our donations are independently tracked so that the positive impact of all purchases is fully transparent. These are heels which have the power to do good and make many women and girls happy.
To date, we have empowered over 1000 women in Pakistan, Palestine, Kenya and Peru. It is our aim to be working in every country where there is currently poverty.
We’d love to hear your stories and views on sexism, feminism and how to create a happier world. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Together, we will be stronger.