2 + 2 = 3. We all know inequality when we see it.
Can you recall an early memory of an inequality? One of mine happens every so often at the hairdressers. The starting price of a haircut in my salon is £30, whereas a haircut in the barbers is around £10. Such a ridiculous but still only minor inequality in the worldwide scheme of things.
A friend of mine whose name I will not mention has also faced much inequality, only she was forced to leave her home, family, and culture that as shaped her behind and moving to the UK as women in her country face educational inequality, unlike we do here.
Remember what Tolstoy wrote: “All that is necessary for injustice to triumph is for good people to do nothing”. Inequality may not be as evident in our country, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the inequalities that exist in our world.
But in the meantime, how should we still respond to inequality? Surely it’s not enough to simply deal with its consequences. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recently talked about when social action is required, he referred to us being alongside a raging river and pulling the bodies of drowning people out and helping people: “that is what we Christians are good at doing –caring for people. Well why not go round the river bend and find out who is throwing them in in the first place and stop it? That is really what it’s about. It’s about going upstream. We know we are called to love our neighbour and serve in our communities but let’s go upstream and get involved in the council chambers and the parliaments where decisions are made and see if we can help make better decisions in the first place”.
In the UK we pride ourselves on family, humanity, and the fight against inequality. However, inequalities still abound in our society today. Despite the 1970 equal pay act, in 2012 women in the UK earned 18.6% less per hour than their male counterparts. At this rate, I will be 62 before the wage gap disappears.
Women’s unequal legal rights increase their vulnerability to violence. In many countries, no specific laws or provisions exist to penalize domestic violence, even though it is a widespread problem. Domestic violence is generally considered a ‘private matter’ and rape within marriages has not been criminalized in India, China, Tunisia, Egypt, the list goes on, and husbands have an absolute right to their wives’ bodies, clearly illustrating the sexual subjugation and violence that women unfortunately remain exposed to. For no other reason than the fact they are women.
Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults, and inequality in education is especially an issue in Afghanistan where girls are often taken out of school at a young age. Cultural factors related to the ‘correctness’ of sending girls to school has caused groups that oppose female education to attack many schools. Female rights are compromised due to limited awareness of what they should be entitled to, but ironically this inequality can only be remedied through a greater access to education.
I recently attended a lecture on Eleanor Rathbone, an unsung hero of Liverpool. This year commemorates the 70th anniversary of her death. The words that spoke to me during the lecture were: family, humanity and the fight against inequality that Eleanor spent her life fighting for, and I am pleased the appeal to celebrated Eleanor Rathbone with a statue has been successful. I am determined in my life to go “upstream” and like Eleanor Rathbone fight against inequality…Are you? Because in 2016, 2+2 should really equal 4.