March 8, 2019
It amazes me that we single out 1 day to celebrate or honor something which should be, at the least, a no-brainer and in reality, worthy of more than a single day or month. Riding on the heels of Black History Month, today is International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter). Take a moment to digest that. Over half of the U.S. population and nearly half of the world’s population are female. So, why do we set aside just 1 day to celebrate women? South Africa celebrates a National Woman’s Day on August 9th as well.
Is it because society has attempted to devalue and marginalize women? The State of The Gender Pay Gap 2018 reports that women get paid 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men. That 22% difference adds up quickly. For every man making $30,000 a year, a woman is talking home $6,600 less. At $50,000 a year it’s $11,000 less. It doesn’t stop at the executive level either. Fast Company did an article in May of 2015 where it reported that, “The top two highest-paid male CEOs make more than all the top-paid female CEOs combined.”
Even though more recent articles try to highlight a small number of women executives closing the pay gap, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation stated in their report Is There a Gender Gap in CEO Compensation that “Our findings advance the existing academic and popular discourse on gender pay gap. It is believed that the gender pay gap is “both persistent and universal” so that “earnings statistics for 150 countries worldwide show that, without exception, women’s earnings lag behind those of men.”
But it doesn’t stop at equal pay for equal work. It’s a matter of equal rights. Would it surprise you to know that the Equal Rights Amendment, introduced in 1923 to fight for gender equality, never reached the three-fourths (38 of 50 states) approval required for ratification. It’s still 1 state short with several states having withdrawn their ratification.
The United Nations refers to gender equality as “The unfinished business of our time”. “…besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.” This is truly a global issue as women continue to struggle for equality and empowerment. One of the biggest components of this worldwide is education. The Peace Corps reports the following alarming statistics.
- Girls still make up a higher percentage of out-of-school children than boys
- Approximately one quarter of girls in the developing world do not attend school.
- Typically, families with limited means who cannot afford costs such as school fees, uniforms, and supplies for all of their children will prioritize education for their sons
- Families may also rely on girls’ labor for household chores, carrying water, and childcare, leaving limited time for schooling
The silver lining on the education front is that girls are completing post-secondary education more than their male counterparts.
Needless to say, there’re tons of information out there on the disparity woman face in the workforce, society, and education systems. If you are one of the many female DC Voice readers, we aren’t telling you anything you don’t already know. But it still amazes the contributors to this publication why only 1 day is set aside for a topic that deserves so much more attention. Other articles of interest are: