Globalizing Gender Equality

Event Date: 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:00am


By Melisa Villafuerte

Gender inequality in the 21st century? The recent marches and labor strikes that have taken place globally serve as a reminder that there is gender inequality is still very real. Women are still constantly having to fight against the system to be recognized as equals. The problem lies in the fact that the issue is not widely acknowledged.

People assume that we have evolved into a very progressive and developed world where women face little if any oppression. In reality there still are micro-scale aggressions directed to women every day, and quite significant aggressions directed to women in the workplace and in their social lives.

I believe the key to changing the social and economic inequality that women face is for people to start identifying as feminists. There must be an awareness of intersectionality and an understanding that every woman has her own individual struggle. The only way to create change of for us to collectively stand up against the system.

In the United States women are economically oppressed by way of lower wages. According to CNN Money, women “generally earn 97 cent for every dollar men earn” which adds up to a huge difference in the lifestyles of women compared in particular to white men. Once ethnicity is considered women of color fare even worse, earning less compared to white women and occupying a lower percentage of the work force.

Another example of women’s constant struggle for equality is how women in many countries are still seen as ideally submissive and confined to motherly duties. In Ireland, where abortion is prohibited by federal law, the 8th amendment states “Acknowledged the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother” meaning abortion is only permitted in situations where the life of the mother is endangered.

In the eyes of a woman who has been raped and does not want to have to bear the burden of having the child this restriction may be seen as unreasonable. Indeed, the law exercises control over women’s bodies. Reproductive rights are one of the struggles that women are fighting for that closely affects their lives.

As mentioned earlier, the most effective way to bring attention to the struggle for gender equality is the creation of a social movement. Demonstrations such as the “Day Without a Woman” are important because they raise the conversation over what women want and what they can do to achieve their goals.

People like Eliza Mackintosh remind us that “the action is aimed at showing the economic importance and impact of women on society.” I believe that the best way to achieve something is to violate social norms. In this case women violated social norms by marching, striking and generally rallying around their common cause.

These demonstrations brought women together from a wide array of locations, ethnicities and social positions. I am not saying that these identities were put aside, rather they were highlighted among a range of women’s individual struggles for themselves and their daughters. Poulami Basu writes that the is better communication when the concept of global sisterhood is abandoned and profound differences in women’s lives are fully acknowledged.

Ultimately I believe that the women’s movement would have more supporters if it were not for the stigma attached to the word feminism. Having an equal proportion of men and women in the workforce would benefit the economy as productivity would be increased by harnessing the output of both genders.

Some may still see increased involvement of women in society as a threat, as Basu mentions in her piece that the “resistance to feminism may reflect a fear that it demands a total transformation of social order”.

Since our countries have been structured to support male domination for centuries the simple concept of having women play a more active role is frightening to some, but it’s not only a change we need to make, it’s inevitable. We must make this struggle a collective fight if the movement for gender equality is to go global.