The Cost of Gender Inequality

A series of adverts in London were brought to my attention recently, advertising a product known as Slender Blend. The majority of the advertising space is occupied with a model that could be easily described as yet another example of the media's idea of beauty, but this alone is not what brings me to question the advert. Besides the model was the question asking "Are you beach body ready?" suggesting in a very unsubtle way that unless a woman is as thin as the woman featured, then the answer was "no." This advert is just the latest example in the case arguing that gender-equality is still a long way from being a reality.

When Charlotte Fletcher, an avid blogger and tweeter, highlighted such concerns over female sexual objectification, Protein World blocked her. One employee, Tom, proceeded to tweet and re-tweet anti-feminist messages such as: "Surely as a feminist Vicky, you understand that no one takes you seriously?" patronizing anyone and disregarding any individual who reacted negatively to their latest advertisement. Such campaigns only reverse and diminish the progress that is being made towards gender equality and attitudes towards women.

The statistics surrounding gender equality and attitudes towards women are, to say in a very understated manner, unnerving. A 2012 report emphasized the fact that 36 percent of people believe that women are wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk, a further 26 percent believed that if she was in public wearing "sexy or revealing clothes" it was wholly or partly her fault also. When it comes to employment 30,000 women are fired each year simply for being pregnant and it is estimated that 440,000 women a year lose out on pay or promotion as a result of pregnancy.

When we concern ourselves with the matter of representation it was found that only 25 percent of MP's are women. In the cabinet office, women are outnumbered at a ratio of 5:1, and at current rates, it would take 150 years to see an equal number of men and women elected to English local councils.

It is estimated that the UK would gain up to £23 billion (the equivalent to two percent of GDP) by better harnessing women's skills in employment, and RBS calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £60 billion extra to the UK economy, meaning that the economic benefits for moving towards true gender equality is £83 billion. A gender-balanced board is also one which is more successful than a mono-cultural board on every measure according to McKinsey & Co.

If women started businesses at the same rate as men, then the UK would see 150,000 extra start-ups a year, in fact investing £1 in a women's enterprise would provide a greater return than investing £1 in a male owned enterprise. With SME's driving the UK's recovery, as the London Stock Exchange (LSE) indicates in a recent article by The Guardian, it is obvious that gender equality would help lead the UK to greater economic prosperity.

It is the dismissal and patronization of these facts, and those who support the movement towards gender equality, which I take umbrage with. By degrading, ignoring or patronizing the cause and its supporters, as this advert does, you are directly supporting the counter position, and such an attitude is unacceptable and incompatible in today's world. Gender inequality, sexual objectification and sexist attitudes need to be a relic of the past. A persons worth, to any extent or dimension, should not be determined by their physical being.