Women’s Rights – Is the United States Doing Enough?
Gender equality is an essential foundation for a free society. It is a basic human right, but also has enormous socio-economic ramifications. For example, equal access to education and health care is proven to decrease poverty. When women are empowered, they become more productive, which spurs economic growth.
But despite these efforts, women still face discrimination. Women and girls are denied educational opportunities, political participation, and health services. They are also trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery. Some groups of women face compound forms of discrimination due to age, ethnicity, and disability. Despite the progress made over the last decade, the United States has not done enough to secure women’s rights. In fact, some Americans believe the country has lost ground.
The United States has ratified a number of international conventions aimed at securing the rights of women. Among the most important are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1997). These are set up to fight discrimination in marriage, employment, and education. Several countries have rejected the convention. Other nations that have not ratified it include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Palau.
The UN has held several conferences over the years to discuss the importance of women’s rights. These conferences illustrated the disparities between women in different cultures and how difficult it can be to apply universal principles. Nevertheless, the international community still has a long way to go.
One major obstacle to gender equality is sexual harassment. Women and men in many parts of the world are not safe to be alone with a man they do not know. Many women are also trapped in conflict zones where rape is used as a weapon of war. People who have a need for an abortion are often subjected to risky punishments. While these laws may be changing in some places, there is still a huge gap in the number of women who can afford to have an abortion.
Even though the majority of Americans feel that the country has made some progress on women’s rights over the last 10 years, a significant percentage of women and men say that things aren’t as good as they could be. About one in ten Americans agree that the country has lost ground on women’s rights. Almost seven in ten say that the U.S. is making little or no progress on gender equality.
One thing that separates Democrats from Republicans is the extent to which women are being held back from positions of power. Democrats point to things such as sexual harassment, different societal expectations, and not enough women in positions of authority. However, about half of adults say that equal rights for women should be a workplace goal.
The Convention on Political Rights of Women is a basic international standard for women’s political rights. It has been ratified by over 180 states. It defines obligations that states have to fulfill when it comes to securing women’s rights.