How The International Women’s Day Challenges Gender Inequality

How The International Women’s Day Challenges Gender Inequality

By Dua Fatima Syeda, Textera

The United Nations began celebrating IWD 47 years ago, and the movement has spread to the rest of the world. This day celebrates all women and all facets of their identities while challenging gender inequality.

All this started in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote.

Fast forward to today, international women’s day has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in politics, economics, and education. The political end of this day translates to strikes and protests to raise awareness of the discrimination and bias against women.

Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

The theme for International Women’s day, 8th March 2022, is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” This year’s IWD recognizes and celebrates women and girls leading the charts on climate change adaptation and response. However, the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened the poor socio-economic status of women and placed roadblocks in the achievement of gender equality.

The theme draws upon women to take on active roles in tackling the climate crisis. Everyone else needs to #BreaktheBias and give women the space they deserve in economic and social development.

Continual gender-based job segregation in industrial sectors, particularly technology, is likely to drive increasing gender inequality in the future. Women are the subjects of discrimination, stereotypes, and social norms limiting women’s access to labor markets and quality jobs.

Climate change and sustainability will continue to have severe and lasting impacts on our economic and social development. Unfortunately, those amongst the most vulnerable and marginalized will experience the most profound effect as they constitute most of the world’s poor.

Compared to men, women are more vulnerable to climate change. A large proportion of women rely on natural resources, placing them at the most risk. Across the world, women are shouldering a disproportionate responsibility towards securing resources like food, water, and fuel.

Women in Translation

Mary Ann Evans, famously known by George Eliot, had to adopt a pseudonym to translate German text to English during the 1800s. She offered an invaluable feminine perspective in English literature. Today, Alta L. Price, Molly Shevlin, and many other notable women spearhead the women in translation movement to bring in positive change and representation.

Women translators are constantly facing gender discrimination in the workplace; the future of feminism is through the transnational, which can only be achieved via translation. Women should be given a voice no matter their ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Why do we March Today?

“Because protests make a difference.”

If you think women taking to the streets makes no difference, I’d like you to think again. Women were not allowed to vote until the early 20th century. In 2021, eight countries elected or sworn in their first woman head of state. Spain approved a bill defining all non-consensual sex as rape along with 11 other European countries that have extended their legal definition of rape.

Protests help spur new initiatives like the women in translation project that aims to give space to women in non-English language literature.

Nasdaq now requires companies to have at least one woman on their board to be included in their exchange.

Lebanon approved a family law amendment that bans the marriage of girls under 15. The amendment also demands that girls give their consent to marry or else the marriage can be annulled.

But we’re far from the finish line.

Gender Inequality is Still Deep-Rooted

Despite the landmark achievements women have made, child brides are still a practice amongst many cultures; women in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan still face patriarchal roadblocks in exercising their right to vote.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100 million girls were married off before their 18th birthday. Now, with economic shocks and school closures, a large number of girls are at risk of becoming child brides.

Author of this article, Dua Fatima Syeda

Women are still being criminalized for their decision to abort, forcing many women to opt for unsafe abortion mechanisms. In addition, female genital mutilation is still a thing amongst many cultures which carries enormous risks to women’s health.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There is a lack of true gender equality anywhere in the world. Around one in three women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime.

My question now is, why aren’t you marching with us?

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