Women’s Rights Across Party Lines

Women and girls are half the world’s population – and a crucial force for peace, full human potential, sustainable development, and a better future. But they face a host of barriers to their rights, including gender-based violence and discrimination, unequal access to education and jobs, economic inequalities, lack of reproductive health services, harmful traditional practices like child marriage, and more. Addressing these issues isn’t just a matter of fairness and justice; it’s also a necessary step towards sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

The good news is that more and more people are seeing this. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, majorities of Democrats and Republicans agree that the country has made progress in recent years when it comes to giving women equal rights with men. However, there’s still a long way to go: 57 percent of Americans say our country needs to do more to give women equal rights with men. Across parties, respondents name a range of factors that are holding back progress, including not enough women in positions of power (73 % vs. 51 %), sexual harassment (81 % vs. 66%), and different societal expectations (69% vs. 57%).

As a woman, you deserve to have the same opportunities as everyone else. That’s why gender equality is so central to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5, which is dedicated to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” It’s a goal that must be at the top of everyone’s priority list, because it will have a positive impact on every aspect of our global society: empowering women is proven to boost productivity, lift poverty rates, and grow economies.

Gender equality requires deep legal and political change. While 143 countries have now guaranteed women’s equality in their constitutions, stark gender disparities remain across the economy and in politics. Worldwide, women earn 20 % less than men for the same work and only 26 % of national parliamentarians are female. In addition, a shocking number of girls are being married off as children and many live with harmful traditions like female genital mutilation and child marriage, which can have serious health consequences, including for their children’s well-being.

The good news is that there’s a lot we can do to advance women’s rights. We must make a concerted effort to promote women’s empowerment in our societies, including by supporting the men who are often victims of these injustices, by taking steps that don’t harm other groups — like LGBT people — and by being mindful of the need for balanced and paced initiatives that are grounded in the do-no-harm principle. And, most importantly, we must commit to funding these efforts. Because without it, we will never close the gap and achieve true gender equality. We can do it — but only if we take action now. Together, we can rewrite the story of our shared humanity.