March 8th is recognized worldwide as International Women’s Day: a day dedicated to celebrate women’s social, political, and economic contributions. In some countries, like Russia and Ecuador, women have the day off from work and, surprisingly enough, men take care of the daily duties to show their appreciation. In other countries, like the United States, celebration is minimal. Maybe a flower or two, but Valentine’s Day was less than a month ago—Mother Nature’s monthly gift can suffice for March.
Although many people take this “holiday” lightly, International Women’s Day does spark yet another debate about gender equality. Are men and women having the same opportunities in the work force? Not all the time. Are women’s rights still being highly criticized? Yes. The progress towards gender equality has subsided in many countries. According to The World Economic Forum, as of 2015 the gender gap will close entirely in 2133. 2133. One hundred seventeen years from now.
There is no doubt that women’s rights have progressed across the world, but there are still major setbacks:
These are just some of the bigger issues women face, but there are more that women encounter daily. From pressures on body image to prejudices in the work force, women never seem to catch a break. And that is not okay. It is not okay that we have women begging to not have to work with their rapists. It is not okay that an institution aimed at providing medical treatment to women be shunned for their works. It is not okay that women in professional jobs receive lower salaries than their male coworkers. And it is certainly not okay that women are expected to look a certain way or take on a certain role to please men. It is not okay, and we need to fix it.
How can we, college students and graduates, speed up the process towards gender equality?
Take action. Whether you are a male or female reading this, on this International Women’s Day, think about all the women in your life who have shaped and helped you become the person you are today. Encourage women around you to believe in themselves and their abilities and respect and value their efforts. Urge for women and men to have leadership roles that will balance the workforce and eliminate any biases. Take part in raising awareness through letters/talks and peaceful demonstrations that highlight issues regarding women’s rights, such as eliminating rape culture. Hell, tell your mom, grandma, aunt, or sister you love and appreciate them.