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Women's History Month & Female Progress

By Kina Desai (Mira Costa High School)

Image credit: WABE

Happy Women’s History Month! March is a month where women and their progress are recognized. Women’s History Month 2021 has been uniquely celebrated from years prior, but why is that?

This year as a whole was different from prior years, March marking a year of COVID-19 in the United States. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic sweep the globe, but major protests broke out, and for American citizens, Kamala Harris became the first female (and female of color) in the Oval Office. Even social events, such as Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, showed two very strong and successful women to the world. Moreover, today there are endless amounts of female role models and female activists, including youth Greta Thunberg on climate change and poet Amanda Gorman, who performed at two of the most televised events in America this year. But despite the great amount of progress that has been made in the world, it is important that during this year’s Women’s History Month we reflect on the issues still facing women and the progress that still must be made.

In this article, three women’s issues that have progressed over time but still have a ways to go will be discussed. Although there are many areas were women’s roles and rights have progressed with room still to continue moving forward, three of these instances include women’s representation in government, women’s ability to work in the formal economy, and women’s education rights.

Women’s Representation in Government:

In a large majority in countries around the world, women are able to hold a seat or be representatives in the government. For example, in January of 2021 the first female Vice President was elected in the United States of America was elected, Kamala Harris. This is so significant since in order for policies to reflect women’s needs, there must be female representation in the government. According to the United Nations, women serve as Heads of State or Government in only 22 countries. Although this is great progress, there is still work that needs to be done.

For starters, the amount of women in the government in many countries are a much smaller percentage in comparison to men. Currently, there are over 100 countries that have not had a women as their leader or government leader. Despite the progress made in this area, there must be a significant increase in the amount of women represented in the government to achieve a more equal representation.

Women’s Ability to Work in the Formal Economy:

Many years ago it was uncommon or even not allowed for women to work in the formal economy. For example, in parts of Africa today women are prevented from participating in the country’s formal economy. In a majority of countries (especially developed) around the world - Canada, the US, Italy, Vietnam, Brazil, Finland, and more - women make up a large portion of the working economy which is great progress in comparison to centuries ago.

The problem that is still facing many working women is equal pay, harassment, and gender discrimination. In spite of the progress made for women in the workforce and although it varies by country, there are still problems facing women when it comes to them not being treated fairly or being discriminated against. Another large issue for working women is equal pay, since often women are not paid the same as men for doing the same jobs. According to Pay Scale, in 2020, women earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Women’s Education:

Finally, women’s education has been something that has greatly progressed in much of the world today, although many places have a long way to go. Women’s education leads to empowerment, better jobs, a more productive population, and increased women’s role in society. In many society’s women were not always allowed to go to school, but in relatively recent years that has changed in many places, such as in the US and Canada. Conversely, there are still places in the world where not all women are allowed to or able to get an education because of society’s restrictions and their country’s gender roles. For example, women in rural villages in select African countries begin working in agriculture as soon as they are of age, thus because of this gender role do not receive an education. It is very important that women receive an education because it is what allows women to be active members of society and continue to push forward.

In summary, this year’s Women’s History Month has been one of celebrating the progress made by women, while recognizing that there is still much progress to be made. Having successful female role models, especially in positions with political power, can empower women and girls and give them hope for their future. Everyone, men and women alike, must work towards an equitable society.

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