Gender Equality Matters To Me Because………..!

“Gender Equality is more than a Goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” – Kofi Annan

Pic courtesy sortedstuff.org

Pic courtesy sortedstuff.org

Few weeks ago I tweeted this from my twitter account: “Women/Girls today are afraid to speak of women’s rights coz they are made to believe that #Feministsareugly & #Feminismisawful. This is #whyweneedfeminism”. That very instant I was bombarded with tweets from ‘haters’. I almost had a twitter war with a couple of people on the topic of Women’s Rights, for they vehemently opposed the movement. While I am a firm believer of the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, the reason most quoted for ‘hating’ Women’s Rights Activists did not seem rational. One told me that Feminists/Women’s rights groups are working too hard to pass ‘Sexist’ laws. Another person told me that the only thing Women’s rights activists do is protesting the MRA (Men’s Rights Activists). Revulsion for Women’s Rights Groups resonated in their words. Their animosity reminded me of why we even have a day called ‘Women’s Equality Day’ and this build up an urge in me to ‘explain’ to the so-called anti-feminists what this movement is all about.

national-women-s-equality-day-pictures-2Let me begin by telling you about Women’s Equality Day which is celebrated on August 26 every year. On this day in the year 1920, after more than 72 years of campaigning, Women in the US won the rights to Vote. Ever since various organizations were set up working for equal rights for women like National Organization for Women (NOW) in the US. Today, women’s equality has grown to mean much more than just sharing the right to vote. Organizations such as Equality Now and Womankind Worldwide continue to work to provide women across the globe with equal opportunities to education and employment, working against violence and oppression of women and against the discrimination and stereotyping which still occur in every society. The work these organizations do speaks volumes about the movement.

Over the last century women like Mother Teresa, Billie Jean King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Amelia Hart, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel and many many more have proved what they can achieve and what women are capable of, given the opportunity. The word ‘opportunity’ is of importance here, because opportunity does not come easy for tens of thousands of women. I am not saying that it is easy for men; I am saying that it in most societies it is easier for men as compared to women. Women in most societies are denied the opportunity simply for the fact that they are women. These women have to fight, they have to fight for their right to education, fight against sexual harassment, domestic violence and discrimination, for reproductive rights, for maternity leave, for equal pay, for almost everything!

Still confused about why we need Feminism/Women Rights Activists? Allow me to display some hard core facts.

  • A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. Rape is used as a weapon of war in many developing countries.
  • Approximately 28 countries in Africa, few in the Middle East, Asia and South America still practice the horrendous Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
  • One third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15. If present trends continue, 150 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday over the next decade. That’s an average of 15 million girls each year.
  • In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid. In other words, women make about 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes, according to the AAUW. The pay gap hasn’t budged in almost a decade, and it’s worse for women of color. Hispanic women often make 54 percent of what white men make, on average, and black women make about 64 percent of white men’s earnings.
  • Women’s bodies are still regulated by legislation that seeks to restrict their access to abortion— a right that was given to them decades ago by the Supreme Court. Some politicians even want to stop women from easily accessing birth control, which is part of a woman’s basic healthcare needs.
  • The US ranks last in the world for paid maternity leave. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12% of Americans have access to the paid maternity leave, which is considered a benefit by the employers.
  • The list goes on and on and includes many small cultural things which I will not be getting into now (I will come back to that topic later).

I have been asked quite a few times if it is because of my past that I chose to support women’s rights issues! While, my past did play a small part in who I am today and what I support, that is not the only reason I chose to support Women’s Rights issues and Gender Equality.

I chose to support the movement because I realized that this is one of the most misunderstood causes, because most people talk about women empowerment but do nothing about it, because I realized that women’s empowerment starts in our own family and it is my responsibility as a mother to show my son what or who a woman is and can be!

Just like every drop of water in a sea grows into an ocean, every small thing you do to support this cause helps create an Equality Mattersimpact in a woman’s life. It may be meagre but it definitely matters. And that is exactly the reason why Women’s Rights matters to me! I recently received an invitation to make a video submission to the fantastic effort by the Group Women You Should Know. They are compiling a video message to the world on Why Women’s Equality Matters. If you wish to make a submission, shoot a short video of yourself to complete the sentence “Women’s equality matters to me because …..” and submit it HERE*. (*Note – Submissions deadline is Monday August 17, 2015 – sorry for the short notice I got to know only 2 days back when I got the invite from them).

While I rest my case I would like to point out that a person, whether a man or woman, who works for the betterment of women’s lives and works against the inferior status of women in our society is someone I call a true Feminist/Women’s Rights Activist. Having said that, I will now leave you to watch the viral video on Gender Equality by Emma Watson – the founder of HeforShe.

P.S I would like to thank @!shita for it is the title of Ishita’s blog post – Feminism and her art that inspired this post!

43 thoughts on “Gender Equality Matters To Me Because………..!

  1. By respecting the women/girls in the family, and treating them with equal respect and importance as the boys/men in the family. Teaching everyone in your capacity the importance of seeing the women folk as fellow human beings and not something that is inferior to men folk.

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  3. #BlackLivesMatter is still so much less important than Feminism! As long as ALL women are oppressed by patriarchy why do we even worry about a very narrow oppression example – just a single race?

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  4. @HasaTLP thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience. I can only imagine what you must have gone through. But the very fact that you still think that FGM is horrific, proves the human being you are. I wish you all the best.

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  5. FGM is horrific. From what I’ve seen and read the act itself is comparable to the type of castration practised in the middle ages. The effects are as lasting: for castrated males the hormonal problems are for life; for females, the damage is horrifying and painful for life. I think I’m uniquely qualified to comment on this because a few years ago for medical, rather than musical, reasons I was, essentially, castrated. Initially, complications prevented the use of hormone replacement therapy, and I was, for all intents and purposes, a eunuch: lacking virility, the ability to have sex, even the desire to have sexual relations. Even then I’d say I was better off than a woman who had had her clitoris and labia removed. I got over not having testicles more so than a FGM victim would have. So, I wish other guys would stop bringing up circumcision and historical castration whenever FGM is mentioned.

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  6. Well, it depends on perceptions, I guess. There are women supported by men and vice versa. I believe what matters is the respect and the treatment rendered to each other. FGM and rape is evil when it happens to anyone….but even inequality is inequality…not something that can be ignored!

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  7. This is first time I read a women talking about taking responsibility of raising better boys/men:
    ‘ I realized that women’s empowerment starts in our own family and it is my responsibility as a mother to show my son what or who a woman is and can be!’
    I totally agree with you and follow the same practice – I have two sons and I am trying to teach them right ways of treating women.

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  9. I strongly believe that women and children need strong advocating voices! So many women and children are mistreated and thought of as a second class citizen! This makes me angry! I work with children, so I naturally advocate for them in my work, but seeing women mistreated, abused, violated and thrown away like garbage makes my voice get really big too!! Good Job!! Keep speaking out, because women and children who can’t speak for themselves need people to stand up for them!

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  10. My friends let me start by telling you that by writing this post, i am in no way implying that only women need rights or that women need more rights than men or that men dont need rights. I am sure there are various issues related men’s rights, health and other matters, I am not and will never say that men shouldnt be given those rights, but I cannot agree with the arguments you have posted below to what you have called my ‘list’. Yes, there are cases of male rape as well, but how many as compared to women? how many men are forced to be sex slaves? You say the age for marriage varies from culture to culture, but who makes these rules for the cultures, did the girl opt into it willingly, in 99%of the cases, no!
    You say that the pay gap almost vanishes when comparing like to like, i would really like to see the statistics to prove that aspect. If you compare apples to apples, the gap still very much remains!
    About abortion – a 10 year old rape victim is pregnant and cannot undergo abortion because the law does not permit it, tell me if this is right?
    Birth control is a basic halthcare need not just for women but men too, educating the young men and women about the proper usage of birth control methods will only help the future generation to practice safe sexual methods.
    Most countries that provide maternity leave also provide paternity leave, yes it may not be as long as the maternity leave, but the mother needs time to recover physically from the birth process and that takes time. Her body needs to heal. Yes even Fathers need time off to adjust to the baby and to get to know the baby and the baby’s routine which is why the implementing paid parental leave is important.
    Practices against musical castration became illelegal in 1861 but female genital mutilation continues to be a practice in 2015!!!
    I have the exact same thing to say, the list can go on if You have not spare a thought to it. Having arguments for the sake of rebutting a list is not my goal here. And giving a tagline or header or title to the movement is also of not my concern. Call it whatever you want feminism, equalism, activism – it doesnt matter to me. What matters to me is the cause that I want to work towards. There are a lot of people out there who are silently suffering because they do not know how to get help or who will help them, my job is to reach out to women like that and do whatever I can from my end.
    I am not here to work against men or hate men, that is not even my goal. i am here to work alongside genuine humans – men and women – who want to work for the bettement of people who are suffering and need help! And if someone reaches out to me for help, I do not distinguish based on their gender, color, race, class…..I Help in whatever way I can!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. Rape is used as a weapon of war in many developing countries.”

    And we don’t even bother looking at, or sometimes even taking the statistics down for male victims of the comensurate crime (which is almost universally defined as not rape in these reports).

    “Approximately 28 countries in Africa, few in the Middle East, Asia and South America still practice the horrendous Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).”

    How many countries have banned altering the genitals of males without their consent? Castration for musical purposes was widely practiced in Italy and only became illegal in 1861. Specific laws are often not present to prevent castration, which now is most commonly caused by botched circumsisions.

    “One third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15. If present trends continue, 150 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday over the next decade. That’s an average of 15 million girls each year.”

    The age at which someone is considered an adult varies from culture to culture. For instance, the Roman age of maturity was 30. The age at which most adults in the West marry would be considered similarly to Romans as what you complain of here. The more important point to address would be the issue of arranged marriages, which naturally impact both genders. Without arranged marriages, this “problem” would resolve to a matter of choice.

    “In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid. In other words, women make about 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes, according to the AAUW. The pay gap hasn’t budged in almost a decade, and it’s worse for women of color. Hispanic women often make 54 percent of what white men make, on average, and black women make about 64 percent of white men’s earnings.”

    When correcting for personal career choices, by say, comparing like to like, this gap vanishes. Further, whilst “women of color” may make even less than other women, you have not given statistics to demonstrate that the gap worsenses (as you claimed). That would require a comparison to the earnings of men from the same racial background.

    “Women’s bodies are still regulated by legislation that seeks to restrict their access to abortion— a right that was given to them decades ago by the Supreme Court. Some politicians even want to stop women from easily accessing birth control, which is part of a woman’s basic healthcare needs.”

    The primary controversy here is between a pair of values, one focused on the life of the unborn fetus and one focused on the autonomy of the mother. All people’s bodies are regulated with respect to, for instance, controlled pharmaceutical drugs, because another value is set against that of full bodily autonomy. It is disingenous to pretend that full bodily autonomy is the only value at play, or that it is an uninfringable right.

    As for birth control, having some few politicians wanting to restrict it is a far cry from being unable to get it funded, such as is the case for the male side of the equation. Further, being unnecessary for survival, birth control is not a basic healthcare need. Again, a disingenous piece of rhetoric is in play here.

    Note that given the strain our current population is placing on the ecosystem, various birth control options are not something that it makes sense to restrict. Indeed, they should be encouraged. However, the use of disingeneous rhetoric serves only to hinder honest discussion and compromise.

    “The US ranks last in the world for paid maternity leave. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12% of Americans have access to the paid maternity leave, which is considered a benefit by the employers.”

    And how many countries offer paid paternity leave? There are few employers who will offer a unpaid leave of absense, let alone paying you to not do your work. This complaint is farcical. As follows the reasoning I gave for supporting birth control, making it more difficult to have children seems to be a net positive.

    “The list goes on and on”

    I’m sure it’s easy to make a nice long list if you spare no thought for the applicability of the items listed. Is it gender equality that matters to you, or is it the label of feminism? After all:

    “Women/Girls today are afraid to speak of women’s rights coz they are made to believe that #Feministsareugly & #Feminismisawful.”

    Is not a problem if your goal is gender equality. A rose, by any other name… However, if your goal is to make the existing movement and organizations labeled as feminist appear in favor of gender equality… A rose, wi’ any other smell, would have as many thorns.

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  12. I guess what you are referring to was mentioned in the comments, coz this whole article is about the rape and sex slave culture of ISIS of the Yazidi women. There was a very interesting discussion on NPR about this human rights violation towards the Yazidi community and how they are now starting to fight back. I understand that most of these ‘terrorists’ or ‘jihadists’ are themselves captured and’brainnwashed’ into believe what they do. The ones who control this whole process are the real culprits here. The more you try to read and understand the more complex and confusing it seems. Good luck with your post, looking forward to reading it. Let me know if you need any assistance.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. did you read through the whole thing or maybe it was in the comments; these people are – the abused ones, not the abusers – are polytheists, which is the monotheists justification – but I know – I actually had originally intended to post this to my blog but somebody mentioned might want to categorize it, so been trying to go back – didn’t get into that when I should have at the beginning – my head was whirling – and do that – under World Events – now if I can back to the original, may have to go back and get it from you – let me see how it goes

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  14. Yes you are right. My reservations were against being ‘stereotyped.’ But it doesn’t matter as long as we know what needs to be done. It’s glad to know that you are getting inspired and I see that you have also worked very hard to inspire others. I thank you for your kindness and wish you best 🙂 🙂 Anand

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  15. I thought I’d mention another amazing woman you should add to your list of accomplished women. “Temple Grandin”, who overcame a wealth of obstacles, autism being one of them. You can read all about her at http://www.grandin.com/. People fear what they don’t understand. Although we don’t live in a perfect world, there are brave people who recognize and work tirelessly to bring atrocities to the forefront.

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  16. Well, like they say, what’s in a name or title? It does not matter whether you like to be called a feminist or equalist or activist or anything, what matters is how we view the ideology and what we can do from our side.
    I am glad you liked the post. You and many of our fellow bloggers from the Blogging 101 community continue to inspire me everyday. Thanks for the nice words 🙂

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  17. I can imagine Catherine! I have had to breastfeed my son in a storeroom once! I was travelling, was in one of the Middleeast Countries, shopping in a mall when my son wanted to feed! I was led by the mall security to a storeroom since they didnt have a ‘feeding’ room!!

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  18. Dear Rashmi,

    Reading this brings tears out of my eyes and my heart aches. Though I would never like to be called ‘feminist’ I feel inequality must be addressed and acted upon to improve society and create a harmony for all. This is a brilliant article and you have put a lot of effort and research into it. I did see Ishita’s painting which inspired your article. It’s so good to see that we are all getting inspired for good causes. Thus we are all affecting each other positively–creating a better life for everyone.

    A rising tide lifts all the ships.

    I did not know many points and thanks for sharing them.

    Wishing you a very best of luck in everything,

    Anand 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  19. If men gave birth abortion centers would be fitted with big screen TV sets, a round-the-clock viewing of EVERY sports game airing world wide, and beer on tap. If men gave birth, the would be doing lawn work on a hot humid day, topless, as usual with a baby hanging from their moobs–but yet for a woman, breast feeding in public is largely looked down upon (trust me, I nursed each one of my three children for three years each. They are three years apart. That is a total of nine years. I’ve had my arguments). If men gave birth, there would be no crying or show of emotions!
    Women’s rights as well as feminism NEED to be revisited AND made aware. Especially THESE days when it seems like the fundamental right is growing a voice. Ohhh. don’t even get me started!!!!! “Women’s Lives Matter”! Great post btw!! Thank you!

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