“Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women… violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men” – United Nations, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
It’s quite sad to admit but as a woman, senator Hillary Clinton having a strong shot at the presidency in spite of her gender disadvantage, is a really big deal. Her gender being a legitimate hurdle over which she has had to leap throughout her political career is neither a reflection of her character nor abilities; it is a warning sign that we are not as civilized as we would like to believe.
Some may hastily consider these words to ring with a sexist twang but this voice and these opinions are focused on eradicating mainstream ignorance to the bleakness of gender disparity. Consider this: millions are affected daily by a whispered social dogma, which breeds young women into psychological shackles. All it takes is an honest analysis of the United States and the world in general to realize that, as 2015 draws to a close, we are not half as socially progressive with regards to women’s rights as we should be. In fact, here in the U.S., women are still entrenched in a mental colonialism which is propagated at every turn.
The lens of discussion with regard to women is constantly turned to issues which focus on their objectification and entrenchment into a consumer based mindset of beautification dependency, from a young age. Either that, or voices clamor in the streets for pay equality, as though making more money should be the paramount concern for women over being conscripted by beauty industries into indentured servitude. How very 19th century. Among young women, epidemics of eating disorders and excessive school bullying are symptoms of an underlying social illness which needs to be addressed: Acceptance of gender parity through the cultural actualization of Women’s Rights.
Yes, a dynamic cultural shift is needed in order to empower a sustainable solution. The widespread existence of women in all social stratospheres, who are afflicted by demons termed such things as, “feminization of poverty,” “beauty sickness,” and “objectification theory,” make it no wonder that young girls are willingly subjecting themselves to the tempestuous, and often fickle, seas of social dependency via peer validation.
Rather than perpetrating even more stereotypes and loosing further our grip with values such as honor, equity, reason, integrity, and justice, let us seek an equal seat at the table for women. As we ask politicians to debate foundational issues, let’s not forget that just because an issue is popular, does not make it the most important. Numerous flowers of discontent have roots in societies where key voices were not allowed to fully be heard so it is imperative that we don’t just “give women rights” but that we internalize and understand that women not having equal rights to men in all facets of society is not just wrong but foolhardy. History is riddled with wildly prosperous female leaders of empires, clans, and organizations from Hatshepsut, who ruled for approximately 22 years and expanded Egypt’s trade, to individuals like Dr. Linda Salane, Executive Director of the Leadership Institute at Columbia College, who champion gender equity. As a collective it is imperative that we look to permanently and equally include all those who are very much so contributing to our society’s health and well-being.
In November, first lady Michelle Obama honed in on the importance of not separating women’s rights issues from women’s educational issues. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it must be said: The educational issues aren’t just issues of women not getting the same academic opportunities as their male counterparts (again we require a fundamental cultural shift to a place of gender equality). In the midst of Mrs. Obama’s speech, she suggested that,
“…it’s about whether our societies cling to outdated laws and traditions that oppress and exclude women… we need to have an honest conversation about how we view and treat women in our societies and this conversation needs to happen in every country on this planet, including my own (USA)”
Well Mrs. Obama, our societies are clinging to discriminatory concepts. How is it that women do not have equality in a country as politically powerful as the United States? In a land which professes freedom and equality for all, why is approximately 45% of our workforce being excluded on the grounds of gender alone? According to data from the World Bank, over the past decade and a half women’s presence in the workforce has declined by .3%. Yet many of the top minds of our era are seemingly unconcerned. Studies proliferated throughout mainstream media are less than impressive since the overwhelming majority of them seem to focus on the importance of a woman’s physical appearance.
Change doesn’t have to be painful. That is a choice that we make based on our actions. Simple steps can profoundly impact the future global realities. Reaching past the gender stereotypes and empowering young women to look inside themselves to find their unique voice, is an existence worth striving for. Without unleashing the latent potential of roughly 50% of the population we are building our future with only one eye. Yet, with their inclusion, women will provide a much more robust vision of a world in which we create our own realities based on the best that all of humanity can conceive.
Sources: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/11/04/michelle-obama-women-education-rights/75142004/, http://data.worldbank.org/, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/fashion/makeup-makes-women-appear-more-competent-study.html?_r=0, https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~abbat22l/classweb/feminizationofpoverty/, http://www.apa.org/education/ce/sexual-objectification.pdf, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL.FE.ZS, http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm