TED Conversations

Erin Tuncan

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How do we achieve gender equality?

I was look at a question on TED earlier today about the violent transfer of power, it turned into a debate about gender equality. So I decided to make a conversation where that actually fits. My questions are: What is gender equality? What do we need to do to reach gender equality? How will we reach it? I hope this generates some interesting ideas, answers, and discussions.

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Closing Statement from Erin Tuncan

Thank you all for your opinions and comments! I think we all learned something. There still isn't an answer yet, not that I expected there to be, but I believe that talks, like this one, are going to lead to the answer or answers. I may open this question again, so keep an eye out! Thanks again!

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    Feb 13 2012: This is surely a complicated question. For this I would like to cite (in an as close as possible translation) Ruy Barbosa's (Brazilian prominent state member in the turn of the 20th century) speech for a graduation ceremony of law students in 1920:

    "The rule for equality consists in nothing else than charge in unequal ways those who are different, in the measure of the amount of difference between them. In the light of this social inequality, akin to the natural inequality, is where one would find the real law to equality. Anything else is a delirium of jealousy, of pride or from madness. Treating with inequality those who are equal, or the different ones in an equal way, would be a preposterous inequality, and not real equality."

    I really think that this thought is very close to the matter at hand. The genders are fundamentally different in body constitution, brain functioning, behavior, needs and a lot of other important issues. The genders are also very equal in capacity to produce and think, feel and express and another myriad of subjects.

    With that, my thinking of gender equality should lay on the differences and similarities.

    There's no point in searching for perfect equality, for that would be unfair for both sides. The constructive approach as I see it would be to make sure that woman and men are treated as the same for everything they share and that their differences must be respected and put into good use, making maximum room for both gender to flourish, share and collaborate.
    • Feb 13 2012: I agree. This was more a question to promote discussion than personal opinion. I personally think that it is impossible for Females=Males as I saw one person post, it is impossible. Take the old saying apples and oranges. My question is geared more towards things like in the work place women get paid less.
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        Feb 13 2012: And that is also my point. For things that could be done, the basis would be the assessment of equalities and differences inherent to the genders and make that baseline.

        Equal payment for equal productivity is a good example. Another priority thing would be to make certain that every right (constitutional, legal) should be applied equally to both (as also make sure that every responsibility would be distributed the same).

        Those are actions (not the only ones, just the initial ones) would be taken to take care of the equal aspects.

        Making affirmative health campaigns for both genders would be essential to take care of some of the differences, for instance.

        And finally, for both, to make sure that everyone is covered under the protection of the law, safeguarding the rights, acceptance, freedom and even the existence (sadly negated for women in many cases, in psychological and even physical levels) of both under the differences and equalities alike.
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      Feb 13 2012: Women gained the right to vote under the same literacy requirements as men in 1932 in Brazil.
      So you think this is wrong, OK. It's nice, of course, to get a very wide variety of opinions.
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        Feb 13 2012: Of course not, on the contrary. Suffrage is one of the points in which man and women are equal, it's a trait (the capacity and right to make decisions) both genders share. That's actually my point, in the matters of things that can be considered equal or equivalent, there should not be difference, as for things that are different, there should be distinction, as in ma last phrase:

        "The constructive approach as I see it would be to make sure that woman and men are treated as the same for everything they share and that their differences must be respected and put into good use, making maximum room for both gender to flourish, share and collaborate."

        But for the counter-example, things that are different, something I find very fair in Brazilian's labor regulation: There's a very well defined limit for weight carrying and suspension for women, but there's no such regulation for man.

        This respects the different biology, protecting women from work-force abuse.

        I'm sorry if I couldn't make myself clear.

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