Throughout history, it is has become evident that societies hold differing views towards men and women. While this may not always be intentional, people among various cultures are often looked upon differently and are set to different expectations due to their gender. When considering gender inequality, unequal rights to education is a problem faced by girls worldwide.
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Girls around the world are denied education daily due to child labor, early marriage, and conflict between nations. In Pakistan, Kenya, and even in America where all people are considered to be both free and equal , women have been rejected, belittled, and seen as inferior when compared to the men that surround them. In My Daughter, Malala, Ziauddin Yousafzai speaks to the world about the fight for gender equality, specifically, females developing their own independent identity. In A Girl Who Demanded School, Kakenya Ntaiya expresses how she developed her own identity by doing something that no woman had ever done before: leave her village in Kenya to enroll in a college in the United States. Finally, in Our Century’s Greatest Injustice, Sheryl WuDunn reports on the daily oppression that she has witnessed women across the world face.
In My Daughter, Malala, A Girl Who Demanded School, and Our Century’s Greatest Injustice, it can be seen that despite disadvantages due to cultural interpretations and restrictions, women have continually worked to prove themselves and overcome the traditional gender roles developed throughout history. My Daughter, Malala My Daughter, Malala describes the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education advocate, and how her life has influenced her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, to speak out in hope of change regarding gender inequality (Yousafzai, 2014). The life of Malala is significant as she was one of the only girls in Pakistan to advocate for educational equality due to constant threats issued by the Taliban. Despite these threats and surviving an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman, Malala continued to fight for equal education. In Pakistan, women are expected to maintain the family honor. Women do not have a choice in the matter as society limits many aspects of their lives. Women are limited as to where they can go, they have restrictions on their personal behaviors, and they may only have limited contact with a male figure (Shah, 2016). For these reasons, women spend the majority of their time within their homes. It would appear that women and men are divided into two separable worlds. Any task inside the home is considered the responsibility of the women, while the men take on the tasks outside of the home. In Pakistan, society holds the belief that only the jobs of the men require educational skills (Shah, 2016).
Education for women is considered unimportant and irrelevant to their role in society. Fortunately, due to feminists and other education advocates such as Malala Yousafzai, many societies within Pakistan are slowly beginning to become more lenient concerning their restrictions on women. This shows how women in Pakistan are continually working to improve their role in society and to show that they are equally as important as men. A Girl Who Demanded School A Girl Who Demanded School explains the life of Kakenya Ntaiya and how she rose to defy the traditional gender roles within her society (Ntaiya, 2012). While becoming engaged at the age of five sounds unrealistic, it is a reality for many females of developing countries such as Kakenya Ntaiya. Her society forces young girls that have become engaged to participate in a female circumcision ceremony and become married. After negotiating with her father, she agreed to be circumcised, but only if she was allowed to finish her high school education. This was a significant moment in history as it marked the first time that a woman had left her village in Kenya to enroll in a college in the United States. The drastic changes in the role of women in Kenyan societies is evident throughout history. Before British colonization in Kenya in the late 1800s, women were viewed differently as they were taking on more authoritative roles, such as working in marketplaces or on farms.
However, after British colonization in 1888, the influence of a patriarchy began to grow strong, leading to a loss of both opportunity and responsibility that women had previously obtained. Traditionally, Kenyan women were expected to provide food for their families and perform the role of wife and mother (Karani, 1987, p. 425). In order to teach young women and prepare them for their societal roles, traditional education was used. During the colonial period, between the years of 1885 and 1963, school education was newly introduced. It was decided that traditional education alone was not sufficient preparation for the roles of society (Karani, 1987, p. 432). Before independence, most boys had exposure to classroom education. At the time, it was not considered important to send girls to school. As time progressed, the percentage of Kenyan women without formal education increased. Fortunately, in modern-day Kenya, most girls are guaranteed to complete primary school, however, they still have many constraints when compared to males. This makes it evident that women such as Kakenya Ntaiya have continually worked to emphasize the importance of receiving a true education and the fact that they are not restricted to performing traditional roles. While Kenyan women still experience economic, political, and social constraints, there have been significant improvements made in the areas of educational equality and gender roles. Our Century’s Greatest Injustice In Our Century’s Greatest Injustice, Sheryl WuDunn describes what she believes to be the greatest injustice of the 21st century : gender discrimination (WuDunn, 2010).
WuDunn emphasizes the importance of this global issue by describing the lives of Dai Manju, Mahabuba, and Saima, and how these women have become successful in their societies despite experiencing gender inequality. While gender inequality is often significantly worse when considering developing countries, inequality is also evident in developed countries. Due to advancements being made towards equality starting in the early 1900s, gender inequality has gradually diminished in the United States (Martin, 2015). While the issue of gender inequality in the United States has significantly decreased, it has not been resolved and is still evident through the discrepancy in women’s political representation and participation, segregation in the workforce, and the significant difference in gender pay. In colonial America, higher level education was designed for men. Like most countries around the world, during this time, women were expected to deal with home matters. Anything outside of the home was a job for men. The lives of women in America began to change rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s as feminism began to emerge (Martin, 2015, p. 102). This rise of feminism led to women being admitted into the workforce in the 1980s. Even in modern-day America, there are thousands of feminist groups that continue to fight and protest in support of equality for women.
While women such as, Sheryl WuDunn, are continuing to speak out about gender inequality, it is still a significant problem faced by women across the globe. Sheryl WuDunn believes that through education and economic opportunity, the world will begin to realize that women are the answer , not the problem. Conclusion Through the videos- My Daughter, Malala, A Girl Who Demanded School, and Our Century’s Greatest Injustice – it is evident that gender inequality is an on-going problem. Regardless of the culture or society, women around the world are living at a disadvantage due to gender inequality. Women are losing their lives daily as a result of defying the traditional gender roles that have defined their lives for so long. Due to the bravery of women such as Malala Yousafzai and Kakenya Ntaiya, advancements have been made to ensure equality for women. If women continue to prove that they are capable of exceeding the traditional gender roles of their society, women will continue to advance their position in society, creating a unique identiy for women and future generations.
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