Today is International Women’s Day. It always strikes me as odd that a group that constitutes fifty percent of the world’s population requires a dedicated day. Then I remember this world devalues women.
As you’ve all heard, women in America earn 79 cents for every dollar an American male makes. Women in the workforce have to contend with men like Vice President Pence, who is so threatened by women he refuses to dine solo with a women who is not his wife. Even worse are the men of power who feel entitled to more than just a woman’s work product, see, for example, Harvey Weinstein. One in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. Nearly four of every ten female homicide victims worldwide are killed by an intimate partner. Women and girls constitute seventy percent of trafficked humans.
According to Wikipedia, as of December 2018, the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is 24.1%. In the US, the House has reached its highest number of women – a mere 23.7%, while the Senate has hit a new high with 25% of it’s membership being of the female variety. These numbers are far too low. For those of you who think this doesn’t matter, I remind you that women’s health care is treated very differently than men’s health care. Legislation directly impacting women – Title 9, pay legislation, violence against women, reproductive rights, stalking, trafficking, harassment and so much more all fall under their jurisdiction. And highly qualified women who run for the Presidency are held to a standard no man could ever meet.
In countries that aren’t America, like those in South Asia, a third of girls miss school when they have their periods. Fear and misinformation about menstruation, combined with a lack of sanitary products and public toilets handicap these girls, keeping them uneducated and powerless. Keeping women and girls illiterate keeps men in power. As of 2015, in the Middle East, the women in countries including Syria, Iran, Egypt and Yemen are almost 10% behind male literacy.
But at least with elected representatives, women stand a chance – they can run for office, organize, and most importantly, vote. But what about the major religions? In the Catholic Church, although Pope Francis named the first ever women to a senior diplomatic role at the Vatican, yet women are still prevented from serving as priests or playing any part in the upper level decision-making. Some of the largest Christian entities – Orthodox, Latter Day Saints, and Southern Baptist Convention refuse to ordain women. In the Jewish religion, the Orthodox Union prohibits women from serving as Rabbis or clergy positions . In the Muslim faith, women maintain a second class citizenship, prohibited from leading prayers and participating in leadership and from many activities we consider commonplace.
Second class in elected representation, second class in religious leadership, second class in many educational systems. Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be subjugated in this manner?
On this International Women’s Day I urge all women to ask for more. To demand better. It’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to use your voice for change. Say it loud and say it proud, we deserve more.
Ciao for now,
I deserve more.