I believe gender equality is not only possible but achievable. I want to see this happen in my lifetime. At the current rate of progress, it will take 70 years to see gender-balanced boardrooms according to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. We cannot choose whether we are born into a male or a female body, but we can choose to treat both of them equally.
For gender equality to become a global reality, it is essential to address the underlying causes. How are we going to tackle issues such as violence against women, the pay gap (which stands at 19.1% in the UK) and unequal access to education when so few women hold positions of power, not just in the FTSE 100 but in government?
With women making up only 26% of candidates in Britain’s 2015 election, I believe we need to empower my generation to speak up for their values at all levels of society, from the home to government if we are to see change happen.
2015 has the potential to be a historically significant year. Women make up 70% of the world’s poor and are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men as they are highly dependent on natural resources. The Paris climate change conference needs to ensure the specific needs of women are addressed if we are not to see growing equality. The Sustainable Development Goals, to be decided upon this year, offer a real opportunity to push forward women’s rights and equality in the future. There are crucial decisions to be made this year. I want to encourage people to recognise their potential to influence global issues. We can make a difference at a global level by setting an example of best practice for others to follow and by making our voices heard worldwide through campaigns and social media.
As a woman in science, I find it disappointing and astonishing that only 13% of STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are occupied by women. An unconscious bias still seems to exist that these are typically “male” fields. I would like to explore whether female students feel inhibited from pursuing jobs in these disciplines and achieving their full potential.
Education needs to be at the forefront of change. By influential women interacting with groups such as local schools, I believe we can find ways to encourage and promote a new generation of women to these essential disciplines.