Happy International Women's Day!
Happy International Women’s Day! In 1975, the UN General Assembly declared March 8th to be International Women’s Day. This is a great day to celebrate the progress women have made as well as recognize the barriers we unfortunately still face in our society.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now comprise 47% of the workforce, up from 30% in 1950. Additionally, the gender pay gap has been reduced, with the average woman’s wage rising from 64 cents for every dollar a man makes in 1980, to 83 cents for every dollar a man makes in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. In 1974, the US passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to make it illegal to deny a credit card to a woman because of her gender. However, in all these cases, a gender gap persists.
Why is this? To begin, many people do not think it’s justified to celebrate International Women’s Day. People have expressed to me that they feel like the women’s movement is aiming to make women superior to men. They view phrases such as the “future is female” and “International Women’s Day,” as suggesting putting down men, and consequently, they reject feminism entirely.
It begins to sound silly to think women are trying to be superior to men when we recognize the inherent differences between women and men. According to Beatrice Alba, research fellow at La Trobe University, men are biologically inclined to dominate women, and women are inclined to give in to this domination. Just like someone can go on a diet, we can resist our biological instincts and improve gender equality. However, it is highly unlikely that women would ever dominate men, given our biological predisposition to be generally less confident. We can fight these primal instincts to promote equality, but worrying about women over-correcting for historical oppression is probably unrealistic.
Additionally, even on International Women’s Day, many women have not been able to celebrate women’s progress at all. Just earlier today, Islamist groups attacked an International Women’s Day protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. According to Diaa Hadid, an International Correspondent for NPR, the women marching had taken up the slogan,"mera jism, mera marzi”- “my body, my choice.” The opposing groups threw mud, shoes, and rocks at these women. The police tried to protect the women protesters, yet because of the violence the women needed to scatter. The Islamist groups believed the women were promoting anti-Islamic vulgarity by claiming they could do as they wished. Women in many countries have not dared to mention International Women’s Day because of this perspective shared by anti-feminists in varying degrees.
Women have experienced tremendous progress over the last century, and especially over the last 50 years. But there is still a long way to go. One part of the women’s movement that has been neglected over the past century has been unity. By starting a dialogue about feminism in our daily lives and in online forums, we can get more people on board with the women’s movement. This will be key to advancing women’s rights in the future.
At the Bipartisan Feminist Project, we believe unity is an important element of the success of the women’s movement. We share statistics and historical information to get more people on board with feminism.