According to UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, female workers in most countries earn, on average, between 60 to 75 percent of their male counterparts.
Also, 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their partner.
Many of the figures on inequality and violence suffered by women show that these problems are generated or at least condoned by men, which is why it’s vital that men join the fight for a fair society, feminists observers argue.
“Feminism is about making positive change in society. Men have a crucial role in this project. Feminism is about everyday issues such as sexism, globalization and racism. There are all sorts of ways men can, and do, get involved,” says Shira Tarrant, the author of “Men and Feminism”.
Currently, there are a significant number of campaigns promoting actions to end gender inequality. The most important of which is perhaps HeForShe, which was launched in 2014 by UN Women and supported by British actress Emma Watson. Since its inception, the organzation has worked to improve women’s access to health services, education and work. Similarly, there are plenty of examples of gender activism initiated by men: these include organizations against sexual violence, such as One in Four and Men Can Stop Rape, as well as campaigns by MenCare and MenEngage.
But why should a man care about gender equality? Specialists agree that equality benefits men too. It boosts their wellbeing, helps create a greater balance between their work and family life and improves the employment opportunities for their daughters. Men should care about feminism “for the sake of the women they love and for their own sake too”, explains Nikki Van Der Gaag, independent writer specializing in men and gender equality and author of “Feminism and Men”.
International surveys show that there are a significant number of men who consider themselves feminists and who are in favor of gender equality. A poll by global research company Ipsos, published in 2014, found that 48 percent of men in 15 developed countries self-identify as “feminists” and 58 percent of those men agree with gender equality and even promote it in social networks. Despite the large proportion who believe that there should be equality, only a slim majority, 55 percent, of women agree that they have full equality with men and the freedom to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
It is a fact that men have a central role in preventing gender-based physical, emotional and economic violence but what should be the role of men in the pursuit of gender equality?
“Men must listen to the voices and concerns of women to understand how inequality and discrimination effects them,” explains Michael Kaufman, author of “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism”. Not only must men learn to listen about the problem of violence against women but they must also take responsibility to help bring about change.
Kaufman adds: “We must stand as allies at women’s sides.”