When I talk about glass ceiling, I am referring it to women in the workplace and society in general, but it can also be referred to race any other form of discrimination. 

It is an invisible barrier that prevents success, further hinders in the ability of the women. The glass ceiling is very much relevant to women’s limited rights and opportunities especially  in Asia and Africa where women have limited rights and opportunities in the workplace but it is also important on the western front, where equality is almost fully achieved, but not quite.

Speaking of USA for example, the average income of full time year male employees was $42,800 as compared to $34,700 for women. This gap can be interpreted in many ways, for instance, it can go with women getting into different jobs as compared to men or that the position of power in an organization is limited to men, so they are forced to have low paid jobs. For many countries, for instance, unequal pay is a problem and we have to work out to resolve the issues, while others say there’s nothing more to be done.

Many religions have a law that decides what women can and can’t do, so this creates a barrier which many nations are not equipped to handle, so as to not to upset their people. Either this, or hypocritical state will simply state what women can and cannot do in the social sphere depending upon their religion. Perhaps, religion should decide what a woman can do or can’t, even better religion should decide who to elect, what to eat, where to go etc.

Now the important question is whether the UN has the right to make them adopt these ideas that they would never normally consider because of their religion doesn’t say so.

Nations with more obvious ceiling glass 

Nations such as Chad, Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the list of 10 worst countries for women representation in politics and workplaces.  As a result, Muslim women face many forms of discrimination from entering the work place to employers, family and society. Women are confined to stereotypes work, or are warned to stay at home “as the religion” says so.

Gender gaps in access to education and socially oppressed regions create significant problems as well. In some Asian and African countries, statistics showed that only 93 girls were enrolled for every 100 boys in a primary school last year. Male population have dominated access to secondary and university educational levels. According to the Millennium Development Goals, uniformity of achieving all the goals with respect to education were supposed to be achieved by 2015, many countries didn’t, I should rather say couldn’t.  Asian and African nations will never nearly achieve this goal because rights of women are severely oppressed, compromising their ability to understand their world, in their way.

While in some countries, discrimination is so endemic and widespread; the working women are socially bounded to change her working lace. For example, the Iranian government refused to pass an act that recognised equality legally between man and women (Possibility of the Equality Act). Only 3.5 million women receive a sustainable income, as compared to 23.5 million men, according to the 2010 Iranian census. This lack of representation also meant that some minds would never change and women could never challenge stereotypical views as society would decide what women can and cannot do.

But this is not the only issue faced by developing nations or of countries where religion plays a major role in the state.

Women are prone to oppression in many fields and when entering into workplace, discrimination and stereotyping are often seen. Women are representing in many fields such as science, technology, banking and politics, but there are not many who would continue, their dream.

In the USA and Canada, studies undertaken by University of Harvard showed that salary discrepancies were at the top in the list of work discrimination among women. Indeed, 77% of the women spoke about their unnoticed efforts and upraised skills. Furthermore, there are not many women, who climb the charts of organizational leadership. An independent research estimated that there were only 16.6% of women in the top management of Fortune 500 companies in 2013. In 2014, a study showed that less than one fifth of companies had 25 per cent or more women directors.

Countries that support Women

However, after discussing oppressed workforce towards women, there is some light, in the dark. 

In those nations where the gap between men and women is less the government is more active and address the problem more actively, for these nations the gap is much narrower and the glass ceiling is less and less apparent. One such nation is Sweden, which allows either of the parents to take some time off to care for their child and to juggle family life and work simultaneously. Efforts like these are paving the way for women to have the same opportunities as men. This is because of the Discrimination Act adopted by Sweden in 2009, which forces the employers to promote equality between men and women and make them responsible to ensure women and men make the organization better.

Article Contributed By: 

Anant Mishra is former youth representative United Nations. He has served in number of committees including United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and United Nations General Assembly primarily focusing on international trade, middle east crisis, education, finance, economics. He can be reached on [email protected]

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