Honoring Gender Equality: How To Support Gender Equality Year-Round

Updated October 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Every March, we dedicate time and resources into better understanding the strides we have made in gender equality, recognizing the achievements of people who were marginalized (similar to how we recognize women during National Women's Health Month), and acknowledging ways we can continue to work toward and promote this equality across the globe. So, what exactly does this mean? What are some ways individuals can celebrate while continuing to work toward gender justice in the world year long? 

Moving Toward An Equitable Future For All Starts With Self-Work

What Is Gender Equality?
Gender equality can be defined as, "the state of having the same rights, status, and opportunities as others, regardless of one's gender." Although we have made many strides toward gender equality in the world—which is part of what Gender Equality Month aims to celebrate—we also have a long way to go. Gender equality not only refers to issues such as equal pay and equal opportunities but also to the way an individual is treated in social, institutional, and other settings.

To work toward gender equality, it is important to first define what gender means and identify the areas in which we must improve or change. 

Gender is a spectrum. Some people identify as a woman or man, whereas others fall outside of the socially-constructed gender binary. When someone feels aligned with their assigned gender at birth, this means that they are "cisgender." When someone does not identify with their assigned gender at birth, they may refer to themselves as "transgender." 

As mentioned above, some people fall outside the socially-constructed gender binary. This means they do not identify as a man or woman, but may instead identify as non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender-fluid, etc. 

It is important to note that we cannot assume someone's gender based on how they look or behave. 

The GLAAD website has a media reference guide as well as a reference page that you may refer to in order to better understand these terms and how to use them. 

Gender Equality Throughout The Years
While we have a great deal of progress left to make, it can help to look at how far we’ve come. Here are some facts about gender equality and the strides we’ve made thus far, and the areas we can improve:
  • The first woman elected to Congress was Jeanette Rankin in 1916. Today, U.S. congress is disproportionately comprised of cisgender men. 

  • Women gained the right to vote in 1920. However, women of color were excluded in practice until later. This shows why intersectionality is such a vital part of conversations related to gender and other potential areas of marginalization. 

  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed in 1974, prohibiting credit discrimination based on gender and other factors. 

  • In 2015, the Supreme court declared marriage equality in all 50 U.S. states.

  • In June 2020, title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was expanded to protect individuals from employment discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Today, we still see employment disparities in these areas.

What Impact Does Gender Inequality Have On Our Health?
Gender inequality can impact all areas of a person's life and wellbeing, including their mental health, physical health and safety, and financial health. What are some of the impacts that we are still seeing in the world when it comes to gender inequality? Here's what we know:
Gender Inequality Impacts On Mental Health
  • Minority stress can have a direct impact on emotional, psychological, and social health outcomes. This is likely why certain mental health conditions and concerns are experienced at a higher rate in marginalized people, including those marginalized based on gender.
  • Stereotypes and expectations surrounding masculinity may prevent men from getting mental health care or support when needed. As a result, men face significantly higher rates of substance use and suicide attempts.
  • Period poverty in people who menstruate is affiliated with poor mental health outcomes.
  • Transgender individuals are more likely to face a number of mental health concerns, including higher suicide risk. However, respecting a person's pronouns, the ability to change one's gender marker, and receiving gender-affirming healthcare if desired all show a decrease in suicide risk and other positive mental health outcomes.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also reach the Trevor Lifeline by calling 1-866-488-7386 or by texting "START" to 678-678.

Gender Inequality Impacts On Physical Health And Safety

Sexual violence, which can impact people of all genders, is one area where we see gender inequality when it comes to physical health and safety. Statistics indicate that 1 in 6 women overcome sexual assault in their lifetime. In comparison, about 1 in 33 men overcome sexual assault in their lifetime. (This comparison is made to highlight existing gender inequality when it comes to sexual assault. 1 in 33 men is still one too many.)

Statistics also show that 21% of transgender and gender-nonconforming college students experience sexual assault.

Both historically and in the present day, healthcare is another area with rampant gender-based discrimination. For example, women are seven times more likely to experience a misdiagnosis when compared to men and are more likely to be discharged from care while having a heart attack.

Please contact RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) if you or someone you know is or may be experiencing sexual violence of any kind.

Gender Inequality Impacts On Financial Health

Challenges related to finances are one of the biggest stressors and predictors of divorce that people face in the United States, and of course, money gives us access to our basic needs. Low-income individuals are more likely to face a number of mental and physical health detriments. With that in mind, here are some facts about gender and finances:

  • Transgender people are more likely to be unemployed and often make less than their cisgender counterparts. Additionally, transgender people are more likely to experience houselessness and housing discrimination.

  • According to Pew Research Center, women earned 84% of what men did in the year 2020. This means that gender inequality exists regarding wages.

  • Across the globe, women hold only 24% of senior leadership positions.

How To Celebrate Gender Equality Month

What are some things you can do to celebrate Gender Equality Month and help conquer gender-based inequality? Here are some practices you can implement not just in March, but all year long.

1. If you see inequality or discrimination, speak up. 

One of the best ways to celebrate Gender Equality Month is to continue striving toward gender equality in the ways you can in your own life. For example, if you are in a leadership position that provides you the privilege to do so, make an active choice to fight against gender-based inequality, harassment, or discrimination. Of course, this is not just for people in leadership. Examples of what you can do include taking note of any ways that implicit bias related to gender shows up in your own life, stepping in if you see gender-based harassment, allowing all children and adults to express themselves freely and fully, supporting the rights of transgender children and adults, and engaging with other important causes (such as those related to reproductive health).

2. Honor individuals in history who have made strides toward gender equality.

There are many different ways to honor people in history who have made strides toward gender equality. You may find webinars and conferences dedicated to this, and there are also many free online resources, books, and more. It is also important to learn about and uplift the voices of people who are actively working toward a better world in the current day.

3. Join or support initiatives and organizations striving for gender justice.

There are many different ways to get involved, and this is a great month to do so. For example, you can show financial support for gender justice through donations, or you can share information on current initiatives in the world to support gender equality. You can also support people in your community who are marginalized based on gender.

This might look like visiting a locally-owned business that is run by those of marginalized genders, or it may look like participating in a local campaign. Choose to support companies and organizations that are inclusive over those that are not. 

4. Learn from and amplify the voices of others.

Especially if you are someone who has privilege related to gender, such as the privilege of a cisgender person, the privilege of men in leadership positions, or the privilege of women accessing mental healthcare, it is important to amplify the voices of other people who have less privilege in this area. What are some ways you can do this? You can sign up for diversity education events held by marginalized people or implement them into your workplace, share content from people who experience gender injustice, boost information that pertains to the fight for equal rights, and so on. 

Moving Toward An Equitable Future For All Starts With Self-Work

5. Make your values known. 

Making your values that relate to gender equality known can have more of an impact than you think. Make it clear that you do not tolerate discrimination or harassment and work to create a safe space for other people, such as those in the LGBTQIA+ community, whether you are or are not marginalized yourself. Show your support for those who are marginalized, and again, make an effort to listen. When you see anyone being made fun of on the basis of gender (even something as simple as boys being told, "You run like a girl,") speak up. When you share your values in gender justice and equality, you may start an important conversation or make others feel more able to speak up or reach out if they experience the effects of inequality and discrimination, which can be challenging.

6. Find support.

With a licensed therapist, you can discuss concerns related to gender inequality or anything else that's on your mind. Online therapy options like BetterHelp make it easier to find support and are often more affordable, too. Even better, the efficacy of online therapy is supported by research

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

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