After decades of fighting for women’s rights and gender equality, one might think that it’ll be a thing of the past. While the battle is still ongoing, it has drastically changed the way women and men live and interact today. Not to mention, the fight for equality in the past and today are very different.
In the past, women fought for the right to vote, citizenship, and work. Today, the fight for women’s rights includes:
- Fighting for equal opportunities in the workplace.
- Abolishing the gender wage gap.
- Job protection after taking time off for maternity leave.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and its battle has come a long way. Women have become stellar world leaders. Think Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Sanna Marin of Finland, and Kamala Harris of the U.S., to name a few. But, there is still so much to be done.
Important movements that shaped today
Without a doubt, the fight for gender equality and women’s rights has made significant progress. The Seneca Falls Convention, the birthplace of feminism in the U.S., was held in 1848, launching the women’s suffrage movement and the battle for their right to vote. It took suffragists and activists close to a hundred years to fight for a fundamental human right – to vote.
In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation for women to vote, followed by the United Kingdom when women were allowed to vote in local elections in 1894 with the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies formed in 1897. In 1920, the United States amended its constitution to allow women to vote across the country. In 1986, Switzerland joined in permitting women to vote in nationwide polls.
While these milestones might seem like eons ago, the battle never ended. Only in 2015 were Saudi Arabian women allowed to vote in local elections.
Reproductive and sexual health rights
“No uterus, no opinion.” That was Rachel Green’s famous words on the fan-favorite, Friends. Women and girls should be able to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, right? For some of us, that makes absolute sense. For others, it’s mind-boggling.
But historically speaking, men have long regulated the bodies of women and girls. We’re talking about criminalizing abortion, forced sterilization, virginity examinations, female genital mutilation, and more. Without gender equality, women and girls are stripped of their fundamental right to choose when and if they want to start a family or access the appropriate care at medical institutions.
Making free and informed choices is a crucial component of gender equality and women’s rights.
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Gender wage gap
The common misconception about the fight for a gender wage gap is that women demand to be paid more, but it refers to the differences in earnings between women and men, despite having the same experience, qualifications, and capabilities. Women earn less than what men earn. That’s a fact.
It’s primarily the lingering effects of women’s inaccessibility to education and job segregation from previous generations. In the past, women were limited to working as pieceworkers in factories and domestic workers. But even in the 21st century, where there are more educated women than men in the workforce, women are still given the shorter end of the stick.
The damages of a gender wage gap go beyond the working period and well into retirement. Lower lifetime earnings and less financial stability result in less money saved for a rainy day.
Violence against women
Women of the past were confined mainly to the home and stripped off any individual autonomy under the authority of their husbands or fathers. Many of these concerns continued to follow women in the centuries that followed and manifested in ways that women experience today.
Violence against women often comes from the lack of respect, recognition, and the desire to control. Just ask any woman you know if they’ve ever been catcalled. The chances are, every single woman has.
During the height of the Covid-19 home isolation period, the number of calls to domestic violence centers skyrocketed globally. But with grassroots projects and non-profit organizations focused on women’s issues, safe spaces are created for victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Continuing the battle
The struggle for equality hasn’t quite ended; if you’re new to this, know that there’s no shame in just learning about gender equality and the women’s rights movement. We’re all unlearning and learning every day.
“We don’t have an equal world at the moment and we are radically impatient for that change to come.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Executive Director of UN Women.
Check out our International Women’s Day thematic compilation here:
This International Women’s Day, indulge in ways to celebrate the women around you (and yourself too!). Looking for marketing inspiration for International Women’s Day? Check out these engaging marketing tips for the vibrant pull that you need.