The Fight For Women Rights Is Not Over
The fight for women rights has made great strides over the years, including gains in women’s suffrage and equal opportunities in employment and education. But the battle is not over and new challenges continue to emerge. By focusing on the root causes of discrimination and oppression, we can push for broader cultural change.
The women’s rights movement began in the nineteenth century with a demand by some female reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage. Women reformers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly to lobby state legislatures, and eventually their efforts bore fruit as states passed suffrage laws. President Woodrow Wilson ultimately endorsed an amendment to the Constitution granting women the vote, and it was submitted for ratification in 1920.
Since then, a wide variety of legislation has been passed to promote and protect the equal rights of women. These include laws to prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace; maternity leave; equal credit extension; tax deductions for child-care expenses; and education equality. However, a large percentage of these laws are not being enforced due to the fact that gender discrimination is still common.
Women are also more likely to be the victims of violence and exploitation, both inside and outside of their homes. On average, about 30% of all women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a partner or other close relative in their lifetimes. And many countries are still plagued by violence during conflict and in so-called “honour killings.”
In addition to these human rights violations, women have fewer economic opportunities than men. Worldwide, women earn only 78% of what men do, and fewer than 15% own their own property. And in countries with democratic political systems, only 22% of parliamentarians are women.
Gender inequality is caused by a combination of social, legal and economic factors. At the root of the problem are patriarchal ways of thinking and standards and structures that systematically disadvantage women. That is why medica mondiale works with women’s organisations to target the roots of gender inequality.
This means challenging the power structures that keep women at the bottom of the pyramid, so that women can participate in decision-making in society, business and politics. When more women have the right to speak out about the decisions that affect their lives, communities and nations can prosper and grow. And when more women have the opportunity to go to school, get jobs and start businesses, children have better chances for a bright future. And when women can participate in political life, it will be easier to build a world of peace and prosperity for all. The struggle for women rights is a vital part of the global fight against poverty and inequalities. Only when all women have access to their rights will we be able to transform the world. Let’s make it happen! – By Dr. Shachar Shachar is a senior research associate at MAP, and a member of the board of directors for The Women’s Leadership Institute and RESPECT.