Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but unrealistic goal.

Question analysis-definition of key terms

Equality of opportunity: same chances to succeed in all aspects of life

Desirable: beneficial not just to the women, but towards the larger society as a whole

Unrealistic: impossible task to achieve; just a dream only

Assumption: This question assumes that giving women the same opportunities as men, would help to elevate their social status and position in society. However, this is too idealistic a scenario and that it is impossible to treat everyone in the same way. Inequality is part and parcel in our lives today.

To do well for this question, students need to consider why giving women the same opportunities are desirable to society. What are some aspects of society that would benefit from this and how would it improve and elevate the status of women overall? Also, students need to consider why is this goal unachievable? Could it be due to the women’s individual circumstances and context or could it be the larger external environment that is preventing this from occurring? Students should also realized that this is a matrix question and that they could answer this question from various angles: desirable and unrealistic; not desirable but realistic; not desirable and unrealistic and undesirable and unrealistic.

Yes it is desirable but unrealistic

  • Feminist groups have not made much headway in the championing of women rights and the equal opportunities in terms of treatment for them. This is largely because these groups have been fighting for women’s rights by basing on men’s terms. Most women are also not strong supporters of these feminist groups as a result.
  • It is impossible to accord everyone equal opportunities in this world, especially since inequality is something that is inherent. Every individual would have different conditions and abilities and hence it would not make sense to give someone the same opportunity. Biological differences could be one big factor as to why equality of opportunities are not given to women in industries that need more physical work and in the sporting arena.

No it is desirable and realistic

1) Increasing presence of women rights movements and organizations that help to champion the rights of the women, and to ensure that equal opportunities are given to them increasingly. These feminist movements have made headways especially in the developed nations such as Singapore with AWARE. For instance, AWARE champions equal opportunities at work and promotion. The employers could be taken to task if they are found to have dismissed a female staff inappropriately due to her being pregnant and needing to pay maternity leave. These feminist organizations have also outlawed discrimination against women and champion equal opportunities in terms of schooling for them, as a first step towards empowerment especially in the developing world.

2) It is desirable as greater empowerment of women would mean that the world would be progressing towards greater respect of rights and be more accepting of women’s leadership. It is increasingly realistic as people are more educated and do not believe that only men are able to lead people due to “manly traits”. There are influential men who champion women’s rights and feel that there should be equality of opportunity such as Obama. Such influence though may take a long time, but they will gradually be more realistic in time to come.

Back to the A’levels H1 General Paper 2016 Paper 1 Solutions


  • Joyce

    I wrote this qn but i feel that my focus is too narrow will i get penalised very badly?
    Desirable and realistic
    1) Equal rights for women to an education is beneficial as it has lead to economic growth with a more productive workforce
    Eg. Secondary education proven to boost gdp of developing countries by 3%
    -thus the increase championing of women’s rights to an education, eg malala yousafzai
    Rebut: the fact that malala had to make herself anonymous on the internet shows the risk she has to undergo, both her and her family life, as such acts are condemed in a patriachal society
    -such social stigma hinders attainment of equality, even if pakistan passed compulsory education bill, unlikely that women receive same treatment in workforce hence benefits will not surface

    Desirable and not realistic
    2) giving women equal chances in social political arena can empower women to make a change to their situation, elevate social status
    – women who have high positions will likely to undertake policies to help their female counterparts
    – increase edu, increase number of women opposing FGM for their daughters
    – women empowered to make a change
    However it is too idealistic
    -benefits accorded to women are mere legislative laws
    Eg california passed yes all women legislation to protect women from sexual harrassment
    – but still 68% rape cases not reported due to shame, fear
    – shows that not only society, women themselves still feel that they are the ‘weaker’ gender making equality harder to achieve

    3) increase in women rights movement have made ppl think much has already been achieved.
    Eg. The spectator published article titled ‘feminism is over, battle is won. Move on.’
    -impedes the aim of equality to be achieved

    4) nevertheless, shld still applaud various international organisations for their milestones achieved in attaining equality for women
    Unicef, campaigns etc..

    I feel that my scope for the essay is way too narrow because i mainly focused on social stigma and education will i be penalised badly? Will appreciate for the reply thanks!

    • Christine Chen

      Similar to the previous student, I think this scope is a bit too narrow, where you have largely focused on the realistic component. You did not seem to address the desirability part at all. I wouldn’t say that you would be penalized badly, but definitely if scope is too narrow, it would be a quality grade in terms of A and B.

  • Ari

    Hi! Am I completely out of point if I focused more on the ‘unrealistic’ part?
    -Desirable and unrealistic
    1. LDCs: Patriarchal societies where men are more valued than women such that female infanticides are rampant (elaborated more in the essay) such that it is unrealistic when women are not even given the opportunity or right to survive/live.
    2. DCs: I brought up pop culture and the objectification of women such that women are not treated the same as men and hence are not afforded the same opportunities even in DCs.
    Example: ‘Blurred Lines’ MV, Mens magazines etc
    -Desirable and realistic
    1. There has been progress made towards providing women with equal opportunities as men even in LDCs. (such that women are given the opportunity to receive education)
    Example: Malala Yousafzai and Pakistan’s first Rights to Education Bill
    2. Organisations have carried concrete actions to push for gender equality, by enforcing even the help of men themselves.
    Example: UN’s ‘He For She’ Campaign
    3. Governments are taking the first steps towards gender equality such that both genders get equal opportunities. (Governments supporting this stance such that it is clear that the government endorses it for the country and it is hence desirable)
    Example: Finland’s prime minister vowing to narrow the wage gap, Japanese government calling for all companies with over 300 employees to submit concrete action plans to increase the representation of women, Romania launching a nationwide analysis of violence against women etc
    It would be really appreciated if you replied, I’m really worried. ><

    • Christine Chen

      I feel that these points that you have raised are definitely valid. You have addressed the part on realistic pretty well. You would need some balance on answering the ‘desirability’ component for a quality grade. Do not be overly worried, since I think this could possibly hit a min grade of C.

      • Ari

        Thank you for the reply! Would it make a difference if I qualified my first point regarding patriarchal societies by mentioning how the people there largely do not see gender equality as desirable as men are far more valuable assets economically such that there is little desire for women to gain greater emancipation etc? Also, regarding the point about DCs, I mentioned how DCs are typically greater advocates for gender equality due to their broader mindsets where women should be viewed equally alongside men such that gender equality is desirable in such places. Apologies if I sound kind of vague. Thank you again!

  • Zhili

    Hey just wondering can i split the paragraph into two parts like first saying why is it desirable, then talking about the different campaigns to achieve such opportunities and discussing whether it is realistic or not
    And can the factors that hinder the equality for women be social stigma entrenched and women not having confidence with themselves?

    • Christine Chen

      Yes you can definitely spilt the paragraph to address them, but I feel it won’t make a very good comparison since it is rather piecemeal. Also, the factors that hinder equality could be social stigma entrenched. You would need to cite appropriate examples. The part about women not having confidence you would need to prove it, otherwise it seems like you are generalizing the point.

  • Li Qing

    “it is impossible to accord everyone equal opportunities in this world, especially since inequality is something that is inherent. Every individual would have different conditions and abilities and hence it would not make sense to give someone the same opportunity. Biological differences could be one big factor as to why equality of opportunities are not given to women in industries that need more physical work and in the sporting arena”

    So much for meritocracy, eh?

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