Kayla Harrison, US judo star, is an example of a woman overcoming stereotypes and discrimination in society.
In the last Olympics Games in London, she won the gold medal but she also faced a dark past. She was the victim of sexual abuse by her coach, something that has tortured her for three years, since she was 13-years-old.
Her victory was not just in sport, it is also a step towards gender equality.
In August 2012, the UK hosted a competition that marked a milestone in the history of gender equality, the games were even referred to as, the Women’s Olympics.
In Stratford, for the first time in the history of this competition, women accounted for 45% of participating athletes. This figure was much higher than the 25% in Barcelona 1992.
It was also the first time that all participating countries had female representation on their teams. It was the first time that Saudi Arabia had included a female on its team, and one of their female athletes went home with a gold medal.
For Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, the event marked a “stimulus for gender equality”. But it was not all gold that glittered. Stronger performing countries, like Japan and Australia, as reported at the time, seemed a little “macho”. While their male football team travelled to London in business class, the female team, who were more successful at the games than their male counterparts, had to settle for economy class seats.
The old stereotype of superiority and inferiority has faded with the evolution of society. However, surveys conducted by the Research Centre shows that, in some parts of the world there is still a gap of opportunity between men and women.
In the 21st Century women, as evidenced in research, do not hold high positions of responsibility in international organisations, and business culture remains the world of men. In countries like Britain, a democratic and advanced society, statistics are improving, with studies showing that “men are more supportive of women’s equality”.
The truth is that females are still victims of gender discrimination in the workplace and in education.
In countries like Pakistan, it is popular belief that men should take priority over women when it comes to getting a job or accessing education. And in poorer countries boys are prioritised over girls, because girls stay home to care for their siblings and do the household chores.
This has brought to light some contradictions within international agencies. The Board of Governors of the World Bank, which advocates equality as guarantee of human progress, is made up of 187 members, and only 16 of them are women. This figure reflects the people who are put in charge of the global economy, because the Governors are also the Finance Ministers of their respective countries.
In Europe the statistics are similar, despite 59% of university students being women, only 9% of the universities have a female president.
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(Translated by Grace Essex – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)