International Women’s Day is March 8, 2011. This is the 100thanniversary of the day that was designed to reflect on how far women’s rights have come and how far there is yet to go for women’s equality. In the United States of America this year, Women’s Day is for raising awareness of breast cancer.
Although women have come a long way from the early days of English common law, where women were basically viewed as part of their husband and had no say in their arranged marriages, they still have a long way to go before they can really and truly say that there are equal rights for both men and women.
In the United States, women still only earn approximately 75 percent of what men do. The White House speculates that a big reason for this is that women do not negotiate enough either for raises or for initial starting salaries. Also, women are more likely to be working part time. The good news is that women are attaining more education and, in fact, more women than men now attend college and post graduate schools. However, the fact that women are only paid 75 percent of what men are is worrisome.
The issue of equal pay does pale in comparison to what women in other countries are currently facing. There is a worldwide struggle against violence against women. In some cases, it is sexual assault or abuse; in other cases, it is honor killings by family members. Sexual slavery and trafficking women and girls for sexual purposes are huge problems. It will take a global effort between heads of states to put an end to these crimes, but some countries turn their heads. Sexual violence against women can lead to increased AIDS and HIV rates, severe injuries or death.
In some countries, women struggle just for basic human rights. It goes beyond just mere violent acts committed against women. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, fathers can decide for their adult, even sometimes married, daughters who she will marry and whether she will continue in the marriage. Women can be jailed for refusal to follow their father’s orders. Sharia law, used in Iraq, views men as superior to women and greatly restricts what women can do. They must cover their whole bodies for morality purposes. They cannot leave the house alone, or else they may have contact with unrelated men.
Women have made great strides over the past 100 years, that cannot be disputed. There is still a long way to go before women will be able to confidently say that, in all aspects, women truly have equality with men.