International Women’s Day recognizes women then, now
Women have come a long way since the 1900s when they had to fight for suffrage. While there is still a long way to go until the rights of women are completely recognized in our world, the amount of influential women who are doing their part in making women’s lives easier is increasing.
International Women’s Day is dedicated to recognizing these women. It takes place on March 8 and has been celebrated since 1911, with its roots dating back to the late 1800s.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” said feminist activist Gloria Steinem on the holiday’s website.
Steinem is a frequent spokeswoman on equality issues, but she is one of many women who advocate for greater gender equality.
Another influential woman of the 21st century — and possibly the youngest — is Malala Yousafzai.
Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban on Oct. 9, 2012 after advocating for young girls’ right to go to school. She was one of many females who fell under the brutal regime of the Taliban in the Middle East. Yousafzai is the youngest Noble Prize Laureate and now lives in Britain, where she continues the fight for women’s rights.
Unfortunately, women under Taliban rule were not and are not the only group of women to have their rights stripped away. According to The Daily Beast, it is legal to beat women in Nigeria, a man can choose where a woman works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a woman cannot divorce a man in Israel and a man cannot be charged for non-consensual sex in India.
These are just a few of the many restrictions placed on women around world, promoting violent activities against women. Knowing a woman can be sexually assaulted and beaten in certain countries without the perpetrator risking punishment might give some men an incentive to partake in these activities.
Unfortunately, it’s not only countries in Asia, Europe and Africa that place restrictions on women. While the U.S. can be applauded for not allowing such violent acts toward women to go unpunished, the wage gap is still greatly apparent in America.
According to the American Association of University Women, a 2013 report showed that women were paid only 78 cents to every dollar a man made.
Actress Patricia Arquette made headlines after speaking out for wage equality during her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech at the 2015 Academy Awards. According to FOX31 Denver, Arquette dedicated her Oscar win to “every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation.”
“We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she said.
“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Arquette is not the only female celebrity using her status to promote gender equality. United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador and actress Emma Watson is another woman who made waves in the media a few months ago.
During a speech made to the UN in September 2014, Watson spoke for gender equality and attempted to change the way feminism is viewed by launching the HeForShe campaign. She said during her fight for women’s rights, she realized feminism has “too often become synonymous with man-hating.”
Feminists do not hate men, and they do not believe that women should have more rights than men; they believe both genders should be treated equally. Feminism needs to be respected and taken seriously because without the rise of feminism, there would be no knowledge of the plight of women around the world.
Strong, inspirational women who are doing their part in making the world a better place for women come in a variety of forms. For accounting senior Christina Nguyen, actress Mindy Kaling is an inspiration.
“Not only because she is a minority and a woman in the entertainment industry, but because she’s simply a successful individual who worked hard to get to where she is today,” Nguyen said. “Her ambitious career path is what makes millions follow in her stride.”
“Although I’m not in a creative arts major, as a business student I look forward to her as a great example of what leading women in society can do.”
In light of celebrating the strong women of the 21st century, we must not forget the accomplishments of those women who paved the way for all of us: from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early leader of the Women’s Rights Movement, to Rosa Parks and Harriett Tubman, who fought for African American Civil Rights.
All of these women played an important role in changing the world for the better. It is up to the women of today to continue the fight for women’s rights and pave the way for generations to come.
Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].