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OPINION: International Women’s Day Shows That Progress Must Be Made

By Lizzie Deal and Mae Bruce

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Sixty-two million girls around the world are denied education. 30% of women in relationships report that they have been abused, both physically and sexually. Worldwide, only 22% of all national legislators are female. These statistics should not be true in 2017. We’ve become open to LGBTQA+ rights and justice for minorities, with protests and support for all. But considering this progress, women have stayed fairly stationary in their ranking in society’s hierarchy. Why should half of the world’s population be oppressed?

All women around the word face challenges daily, from sexualization in the media, being paid less than their male peers, to not even receiving basic education. While each difficulty is unique, women all feel the consequences of these worldwide struggles. International Women’s Day (March 8) gives us a chance to band together and raise awareness for who we, as women, are and what we stand for.

The worst perpetrators of sexism are the media and the entertainment industry. News covering women is generally  about a new break up or how she gained weight. Photoshoots and ads of women always depict them sexually, while most ads with men are not sexualized at all. But the movie industry is the worst about representing women– women are always forced to wear sexualized outfits, and are always the romantic interest for the main man in the movie. One of the best examples of how badly women are represented in movies is the Bechdel Test. Passing the Bechdel Test requires that the movie has a least 2 named women characters, who have a conversation not about a man. Huge blockbuster movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire, and Iron Man all failed the test. Women should not be reduced to their looks for our consumption of entertainment. It projects a bad influence onto children, showing them that girls are no more than a face. Girls should grow up being able to relate to characters in movies and TV, and shouldn’t feel that they are no more than a sex icon. Women are strong and beautiful, without having to rely on their looks, and should be represented that way.

One of the worst examples of how women are treated is the constant abuse and sexual assault they are forced to deal with. Women age 15-44 are more likely to experience sexual assault and domestic violence than cancer or car accidents. Teenage girls have to deal with the idea of being sexually assaulted before they are even adults. And the worst part, is most times, the man who harassed or sexually assaulted them gets off with little jail time. Women are afraid to come forward and talk about their experiences with abuse because they are mocked and not taken seriously. Why is it that when women are assaulted, it is seen as their fault? Why should we, as women, have to control what a man does to us? Women are seen as less valuable and easier to take advantage of. We are afraid of walking alone at night, in fear of what may lurk in the streets. And even in our own homes, where we are supposed to be safe, women deal with abuse and harassment. Women’s lives and experiences should not be a joke. Women are not an objects that men can take advantage of. They are real people, with aspirations and lives but they are tarnished by constant abuse and harassment.

On average, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. There is an obvious difference in the amount of money that the different genders make, and it is seen most publicly in professions like acting and athletics. Women make much less than their male costars, and in sports, women’s teams are not publicized or payed nearly as much as their male counterparts. This should not be the norm in our modern society, but unfortunately, the wage gap encompasses more people than just the famous. Wage should not be determined by one’s gender, but rather their work and productivity. If this trend continues, women will not reach wage equality until 2152. When we enter the workforce, we want to be valued fully for what we achieve. Why should our efforts only amount to 80% of what a man does? The scariest prospect is that there is no easy fix to this problem. The solution is not education, as approximately 95% of both males and females receive secondary education.  Instead, the solution lies within the individual jobs themselves. Women: don’t take a job that pays less than you deserve. Don’t be afraid to speak out. You deserve to have your voice heard. You deserve to be paid fully for your time and effort. Know what you and your work is worth. If your job isn’t fulfilling that, it’s time to move on to a new opportunity.

The next step towards equality can be achieved through awareness. This includes educating not only women, but even men on the growing inequality between genders. If we can spread enough awareness not only to adults, but raise children in a way that simulates equality, we will be closer to closing the gap between sexes. Because of the difference in the way boys and girls are raised, boys grow up never learning about the inequality in our society, and are never taught that women are, and should be equal. Even if done unconsciously, the trend of the worth of a woman being lower than that of a man needs to stop. To change this, we need to implement some sort of education to raise awareness for women and stop stereotypes.

Names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg dominate the STEM industry. Despite the growing awareness of the lack of women in technological fields, it’s practically impossible to name an influential female in the field. Academically, women can succeed in these fields. So why don’t we see many? The number of women in the workforce is also staggeringly different from that of males. Statistically, women don’t typically assert themselves as much and, in male dominated fields like STEM, asserting yourself is crucial to success. In fact, only 30% of the world’s researchers are women. Although women succeed in school and even show interest in fields like computer engineering, it boils down to the fact that men can be naturally more assertive than women. To be successful, women have to start asserting themselves and reaching for those high jobs. If we ever want to decrease the wage gap and the inequality plaguing our world, we must advocate for ourselves  and other women.

Living in this sexist and misogynistic world, International Women’s Day is crucial for every woman around the world. We live in a place where everyone is unique and extraordinary in their own way. We need to embrace what makes us different and use everyone’s skills to their fullest potential and eliminate the inequality. It is predicted that the gender gap will not close until 2186. That’s 170 years from now. We, as women, are not willing to wait that long. We must start the change. Women are 50% of the world’s population. It’s about time we start becoming equals.

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