The onset of December has really got me thinking — how revolutionary this year has been for women around the world. 2018 was declared as the year “when women take charge” and it couldn’t have been more appropriate!
Advancing women in the economy and society are at the forefront of all brands, talk shows, celebrities, and political conversations. It’s definitely changing the air around me. Growing up in a society where we are conditioned to accept gender stereotypes and disparity as the norm — we’re finally evolving as a society.
Over the last one year, the conversation has beautifully matured from “women’s issues” to “human issues” that we need to address together. This is a huge step towards realizing the strength of mankind as a collective.
A collective that isn’t divided by sea, land, minerals, power, ego, skin colour, sexual orientation, language or belief. If we all sway our energy towards a shared goal, we can achieve just about anything.
Sounds too ideal?
Below are two revolutionary feats that bring alive the power and reach of shared global goals we've achieved as mankind. This will challenge your worldview formed over years of exposure to media but will rekindle conviction in any social or economic initiatives that you’re working towards to make this world a better place.
#1 World Poverty Trend: In the last 20 years, 90% people in the world believe that with the world population increasing — proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty is either increasing or remains the same.
Fact: In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has HALVED. Only less than 10% people in most countries get this right. In 1997, 42% of the population of both India and China were living in extreme poverty. By 2017, in India, that share had dropped to 12% and in China, a stunning 0.7%.
#2 The Default WorldView: In the last 20 years, our approach to the world map hasn’t changed much. Most of us view the world through the lens of “developed countries” and “developing countries” or “rich” and “poor” or “the west and the rest”. We always divide the world into two extremes for simplicity assuming that majority of the world lives in developing countries.
Fact: 75% of the world population lives in middle-income countries, today. “Poor developing countries” no longer exist as a distinct group on the map. This “divided” worldview is 20 years old. At one end of the scale, there are still countries with a majority living in unacceptable poverty, at the other is the wealthy world. But the vast majority lives in the middle. There is hardly any gap now.
Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come together as mankind? When was the last time, you stumbled across a topic that was widely covered for showcasing the progress we’ve made in the last 50 years?
When I discovered these hard facts, it inspired me to actively search for the progress we’ve made in women’s advancement as opposed to everything we’re doing wrong in India. Daily, on average, I come across at least two articles on how India is ranked poorly in both the World Bank and World Economic Forum reports on gender gap/parity. I believe the first step to increasing participation of women in the economy is by improving female literacy rate.
Fact: Female literacy in India has moved from 8.9% in 1950 to 65%, today. This is something women’s activists should celebrate! The higher the number of gross female enrolments in education, the brighter the avenues for them to enter the workforce. Of course, we have a long way to grow as a country but we should not forget the efforts we put in to get where we are today.
Our phenomenal accomplishments as mankind are never really celebrated or announced because good news is not news.
While it’s important to be mindful of the gaps and misses as a society or economy, it’s equally important to responsibly track the progress we’ve made too. A global ranking of all countries on a gender parity index is enlightening and provokes those who lag behind to put in double the effort. But are we really looking at the issue from all angles? If we are, then why don’t we talk about the areas we’ve improved on, gradually over the years?
Indicators of economic and social progress can be subjective to each person on this planet and need not always be in the form of large, depressing comparisons/numbers. There should be a good balance of being conscious of the ground we’ve covered to the ground we still have to cover.
I’ve realized, the best way to measure social and economic change is to sit for a cup of coffee with my grandmother. The world was so different when she was growing up compared to my childhood. It makes me realize how much progress we’ve made, today. The education and support a girl child receives today are much more than what she could access 50 years earlier.
Gradual changes every year lead to noteworthy progress over decades.
As we globally move towards the shared goal of achieving gender parity by 2030, seeing our historic feats, there’s no reason why we won’t make this happen too as long as we’re in it together.
(Data Source: Hans Rosling)