International Women's Day - Student Essay Competition
International Women's Day essay challenge
Winning entry written by Emma G. Year 10
If you could influence the government to take action on one issue to improve the lives of women and girls, what would it be?
First, let’s rewind back to the day you were born. In most cells in your body, you have a nucleus, and in this nucleus, there are chromosomes. Chromosomes are made up of DNA which contains all the genetic information needed to make every single living creature unique. Both males and females have practically the same set of about 20,000 genes but, if you have two of the same sex chromosomes, you are born female, and if you have two different sex chromosomes, you are born male. That’s it! Why should two tiny chromosomes make a difference to, for example, how much you are paid in your job?
In the UK, there is a vast gender pay gap among all employees of 17.3%, and a gap among full-time employees standing at 8.9% (little having changed since 2012, with a decline of only 0.6%). This shows that in 8 years, not enough action has been taken.
A huge factor that affects the gender pay gap is the fact that most part-time jobs with a lower hourly median pay are occupied by women. This is because as well as working, a lot of women are forced to look after their home and children alone, with little to no support.
This deprives girls and women from equal opportunities to men and are more prone to face discrimination in their workplace (most common in positions in the military). This must be completely eliminated to reach a fair and just society, where everyone, regardless of their gender, has the exact same privileges.
I suggest the government offers more hours of childcare for working families and encourages young girls to consider careers in the high paying sector, generally dominated by men. The government could also increase awareness of the huge gender pay gap by publishing their data annually, hopefully preventing young women to face these issues themselves in the future. It should also be part of all children’s RE or PSHE curriculum to be educated about gender inequality, again, to raise awareness.
"I suggest the government offers more hours of childcare for working families and encourages young girls to consider careers in the high paying sector, generally dominated by men."
However, it is also crucial not to treat women as superior to men. True gender equality doesn’t include positive discrimination. In my opinion, all types of discrimination are negative! Universities and hiring jobs shouldn’t give an offer to a woman rather than a man to seem inclusive or match their desired ratio of female to male employees, they should pick who they’re giving offers to considering their abilities and qualifications, not their gender, because true gender equality is where gender doesn’t matter.
Emma's persuasive opinion piece is part of our Scholars' Showcase for 2020.