Monday, 21 March 2016

Gender Equality of Opportunity

EgaFem’s goal is to reach Gender Equality of Opportunity. In order to do this we need to understand what this means, and how to test for it. We need to know what ‘good’ looks like, and how to identify when it has, or hasn’t been reached.

Our #NounSwap test is a good heuristic, but what is Gender Equality of Opportunity and how can it be influenced and measured?

In order to ask this question we broke down the wording, along with the help from some feedback by @kalidasa476 [1] on twitter, we’ve created a simple infograph. But what does it mean?


As discussed before [2], gender is not purely a social construct but is influenced by biology. This means we cannot use outcome as a measure of discrimination or equality. This is a shame, as measuring outcome is much easier than measuring opportunity.

This isn’t to say that discrimination doesn’t exist, simply that it is a far more complex issue and care must be taken when comparing the outcome of numbers.


In order for something to be equal there must be a comparison. As we are discussing gender, there must be a comparison of male and female data. And this data must be collected using the same method. Any data that uses different methods, or treats the raw data differently is being biased and should be discounted.

This means whenever statistics showing the impact on women are used, they must show the equal male statistics, collected using the same technique and interpreted the same way, in order to claim there is a gendered issue.

This includes the original set up and definitions, which should not bias against one gender in order to force a gendered issue.

When an issue is claimed to be gendered, it is fully legitimate to ask for, or point out the opposite gendered statistics to compare it too.

This is not to say that men and women should be equally victimised. But when discussing gendered issues, it is important to compare the disparity to prove it is a gendered issue, and then work towards providing suitable solutions for all victims, without discrimination based on gender.

Statistics are useful in order to help provide proportional help and support, to ensure funding reaches all victims that require help, and provide the same opportunity for all victims to get support. It can also be useful when comparing the impact of a solution on a problem and identifying when a solution may be unsuitable for one, or both, genders. In some circumstances due to biological differences it may be suitable to provide tailored solutions to the genders.

Violence Against Women

The UN’s definition of Violence Against Women (VAW) is:

“For the purposes of this Declaration, the term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” [3]

Statistics can become biased in many ways. An example is to inflate or diminish statistics using different methods. One such example of inflation is to purposely use a definition wider than traditionally accepted, such as to include 'sex while drunk' as rape within rape statistics.

Any statistics that purposely inflate the victimhood of women when compared to the male data (or worse, when the male data is completely excluded) causes purposeful psychological harm and suffering to women, based on their gender, through fear of men and masculinity. This deprives them of their liberty through oppression by discouraging them from taking risks and gaining economic freedom for themselves, especially within male dominated spaces.

Along the same vein, any study that purposely inflate the perpetration of men when compared to the female data (or worse, when the female data is completely excluded) similarly causes psychological harm and suffering to women through perceived lack of impact and agency. This discourages women from taking risks and gaining economic freedom for themselves, and increases discrimination against women by reinforcing the concept that women are less capable than men.


This was the hardest part to decipher. What exactly creates ‘opportunity’?

Opportunity has two aspects, pre- and post- an event.

Before the event, there must be equal access to resources, equal chance, and equal freedom to try. Aspects of social pressure, discrimination, and support feature heavily in this area.

After the event, there must be equal responsibility for the consequences – for better or worse. This includes aspects such as acceptance of personal responsibility for poor decisions, and equal punishment for equal crimes.

This must be a universally applicable principle, both when benefiting and disadvantaging women on an individual basis, equally to men.

Social pressure is part of opportunity. This includes both encouragement and discouragement from society. However, there is a feedback loop between social pressures and institutions. They feed into each other.

This is why organisations, including governments, must be particularly careful when providing gender based statistics.

Is there a Systematically Institutionalised War on Women?

Intuitions include aspects of:
  • Governments
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Laws
  • Education
  • Marriage
  • Religion
  • Military and Police
  • Media
  • Business and Organisations
  • Charities
  • etc.
When there are consistent messages from these bodies that women are victims, and men are perpetrators through inflated statistics and a lack of true gender comparison under the UN definition of Violence Against Women, they are actively contributing to a ‘War on Women’.

The Next Steps

This is a huge piece of work.

The only thing EgaFem can do is to tackle this a small piece at a time. To make small changes. To fight for women’s equality – to fighting against the War on Women.

Over the coming days, weeks, months, years and decades, EgaFem will fight. We will take this problem piece by piece. We will investigate. And we will create campaigns to change laws and pressure institutions to stop their War on Women and provide Equal Opportunity for Women.

Our first investigation: Rape in the UK - which starts here:




  1. The battle between men and women will never stop. Both has a rule in our society. Whether we like it or not, men dominates and many countries women is very far from men. Your advocacy is very admirable, we should all responsible and act as equal.

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