Women’s Equality: Are You Aware?

Equality: “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”

Every March 8th our world observes International Women’s Day. This Day has been celebrated since the early 1900’s. The day was born during a time where our world was expanding; during a time where industrialization was leading to “population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.” Today, we live in a world that is continuing to strive for women’s equality. This is a little puzzling and concerning since, throughout the years, our world has witnessed, and accomplished, significant change women’s equality and the way our society thinks about women’s emancipation.

It is easy to think that women have gained that equality they began to search for in the early 1900’s. There are more women in important leadership positions, and there has been “an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life.” In addition, we have “female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices.”

Nevertheless, the unfortunate truth is that women, according to the International Women’s Day website, “are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.”

Today, International Women’s Day, seems to be a happy celebration of the positive: highlighting the great accomplishments and praising how far we have come. For example, the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Equality for women is progress for all.” This theme seeks to emphasize how “gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development. It also stresses the vital role of women as agents of development.”

The push for equality, in my opinion, should continue to focus on reminding the world about the negatives. Violence against women is one of the biggest negatives that need focus and awareness. Just in 2006, the UN adopted a resolution titled, “Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women.” This resolution emphasizes that “discrimination on the basis of sex is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international human rights instruments.”

The Resolution requires the Secretary-General to establish a database, that contains “information, on the extent, nature and consequences of all forms of violence against women, and on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes for, including best practices in, combating such violence.” In its request, the Resolution calls for data to be provided by individual nations, United Nations entities, and regional inter governmental organizations.

Additionally, the United Nations Statistical Commission mandated the Global Gender Statistics Programme, which focuses on gender statistics and international coordination in the gathering of gender relevant data. Moreover, the ICC Prosecutor’s promise to “investigat[e] and, where warranted, prosecut[e] sexual and gender based crimes when national judicial systems are unable or unwilling to do so” is a great start to an international effort to intervene and eradicate violence against women.

These are a small start to the kind of awareness I am talking about. I hope for a kind of awareness that requires proper investigation and leads to educating the world about the global realities surrounding violence against women. I think information will lead to greater leaps of change. The UN Resolution is a wonderful attempt at this, but since its adoption eight years ago, not much has changed.

Information gathering might not seem like the most revolutionary path to change, but I deem it to be extremely important. What are your thoughts?

 

SOURCES

International Women’s Day 2014

UN Resolution

Gender Statistics Manual

The World’s Women Report

The Global Gender Statistics Programme

3 comments

  1. I think that International Women’s Day should celebrate the advances in the women’s movement, but also bring to light awareness about the places the movement still needs to go. It is clear that true equality has not been reached. One example is unequal pay for equal work despite the UN Resolution adopted in 2006. Men are paid more, simply because they are male, not because they are more qualified, do more work, do better work, etc. They do the exact same work and get paid more simply based on their sex.

    Violence against women, as the author notes, is still prevalent throughout the world, despite attempts made by the UN. In many nations, women are still considered property and lesser than men. Sexual assault and domestic violence still surrounds us everyday. The United States is viewed as superior and as if “we don’t have these problems”. But, we do and everyday thousands of women are being victimized right here in the United States.

    I am waiting for a time when women are no longer seen as second- class citizens and a time where women can live free from violence and free from inequality across the spectrum. We as an international community have a long way before that happens though. Therefore, we must continue to celebrate how far we have come, but also continue to raise awareness of equality for women.

  2. While information gathering is a step to bringing awareness to the inequality issues women face, there must be a more proactive stance to enforce and mandate equality throughout the world. Women have been afforded a better position in the world in the past century, but it falls far short of complete equality. In truth, all of the inequality is perpetuated by men and their traditional ideologies; focusing on the subservience of women and looking them as property and lesser than men. It would be easy for congressmen in the United States, or Prime Ministers in various countries, or just influential men in the world to stand up and call for equal respect, equal consideration and equal rights for women, but sadly this has not been done expressly. Laws should be mandated that require equal pay for women, harsher punishments for gendered violence and discrimination, but the US has been very timid in their approach toward women. Men could be an active voice and an ally in the feminist movement, but many men in power believe that male dominance and the destruction of their daughter’s, mother’s, sister’s and wives equality is a good trade off.

  3. Gathering information about the inequality that women are facing in the work environment and many other situations is vital. Although it may not be a strong enough step in ensuring equality, it is a baby step. I feel that there has been so many progressive changes for women within the past hundred years. If you think about it, from my grandparents’ generation to my own, ideals and norms have dramatically changed. When my grandparents were younger, there were many stereotypes about the home and the family. Women were considered the care takers who would cook, clean, and take care of the children. Men were the bread winners. Even though times have changed, there is still a great disparity between men and women. There are some people who still abide by the antiquated norms of the past. These people believe that women should not be a part of the work place and should remain home. I feel that if awareness is promoted, and people fight for equality, this could lead to even greater changes for the equality of women.

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