What is Gender Equality?

While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Unfortunately, at the current time, 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15-49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period and 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence. Progress is occurring regarding harmful practices such as child marriage and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), which has declined by 30% in the past decade, but there is still much work to be done to completely eliminate such practices.

Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. Implementing new legal frameworks regarding female equality in the workplace and the eradication of harmful practices targeted at women is crucial to ending the gender-based discrimination prevalent in many countries around the world.

Female student taking notes in class.

Why it Matters

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. Despite this, gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress.

  • Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership.
  • Across the globe, women and girls perform a disproportionate share of unpaid domestic work.
  • Inequalities faced by girls can begin right at birth and follow them all their lives.
  • In some countries, girls are deprived of access to health care or proper nutrition, leading to a higher mortality rate.
Dr. Davis posing for photograph at Black Breastfeeding Week

How We Address Gender Equality

Instructor Nastassia Davis is passionate about eliminating disparities in black infant and maternal health. She is active in several committees and organizations, including the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Her research and clinical interests in obstetrical violence, racism in healthcare, breastfeeding in the black community, high risk OB, and reproductive justice have allowed her to educate the future generation of nurses on the importance of gender and racial equality in healthcare. Through her career, she discovered there were many women of color who were seeking support in breastfeeding, but could not pay for services for a variety of different reasons. This led to the development of Sistahs Who Breastfed (SWB), a free mom-to-mom support group specifically designed to support the unique needs of women of color.

In 2019, Associate Professors Sarah Kelly and Rachel Lyons, and 4-year BSN student Jaime Bock, conducted an analysis of the 2015 Teen Study published by the Pew Research Center. The group discovered statistical differences based on ethnicity and gender among adolescents and their experiences with social media. The implications from this study suggest that during adolescence, key influential factors such as gender, ethnicity, and social media may play a role on adolescent development, since it is embedded within social experiences. These findings were presented at the 2019 Montclair State University Student Showcase and the 2019 American Public Health Association Conference.