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Gender Equality - More Than Just an Ideal, a Game Changer

06/08/2015 14:29 BST | Updated 05/08/2016 10:59 BST

We are told the Earth's 6th Mass Extinction is near. Let's be clear, the planet is not in crisis, it has all the time in the world. The clue is - it's the 6th extinction - the planet always recovers. What makes us fearful this time round is, our species is responsible for the crisis. We are rapidly moving towards extinction, and we can't blame someone else.

Our actions and our mind-set have to change, the choice is ours. Put simply, we can continue to compete and create war, or we can collaborate and mutually support. Our fearful cultural mind-set believes war is inevitable - we project it onto nature, it dominates our society, we fear it in our aspirational futures, we even believe it exists between the genders. 'Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.' Oscar Wilde

There has never been a war between the genders, we have always been capable of friendship. Men and women need each other too much, together we create our species, one gender has never been more important than the other. The looming extinction crisis means we need to communicate with each other more than ever. 'The future of humanity will be decided not by relations between nations, but by the relations between women and men.' D. H. Lawrence

There is much more variation between individual people than there is between the genders. If we create separate pie charts of men and women's emotional capabilities, physical capacity, mental abilities, nurturing and pioneering tendencies, relationship to competition and collaboration, whatever one you want. They would all overlap completely. The only pie chart which wouldn't completely overlap is the one including pregnancy, although Thomas Beatie, the first male mother, might disagree.

The differences between men and women reflect our social expectations not our biology. They are not hard-wired into our brains, they are soft-wired. The brain is soft-wired by experience, and it is experience which changes the mind-set. There is hope...we can change, but we need to do it fast. Fortunately, '(t)he rapidity with which the human mind changes and with which the human, through his technology, makes his own world into something completely different from what, just a short while ago, it was, is so great that, for all practical purposes, the pace of evolutionary development, when compared to it, is standing still.' Konrad Lorenz

Our mind-sets have created a culture and society which is lop-sided. Predominant patriarchy and greed has perpetuated a misguided and completely irrelevant storyline for us all. Patriarchy is pernicious, and men and women have to rapidly replace it with gender equality. In order to do this, men will necessarily have to lose their favours and privileges, and women have to gain. Tokenistic equality is not good enough, we have to seriously commit ourselves to wholesale and all encompassing change. That needs to happen across the board. The over-privileged need to give to the under-privileged, whatever their gender. There is much to be done in order to ensure that the process of equality is given the significance it deserves, and, as part of that process, we should be celebrating our shared humanity, not our differences.

Human beings need to accept responsibility, stop blaming others, to open our hearts, and collaborate. Men and women can't afford to wallow in victimhood or try to maintain their superiority. We must seek the path towards redemption for our species. 'Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.' Kofi Annan