100 years after women vote, gender equality is still not in sight
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Last week, people around the United Kingdom were celebrating the 100 anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Indeed, in 1918 the Parliament passed an act granting the vote to women over 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, and graduates of British universities. Although women in the UK can now vote as their male counterparts do, there still exists a significant lack of gender equality in Western countries.
via Wikimedia Commons
I will continually wonder how suffragettes would react if they were aware that a hundred years after they were granted the most basic right of voting, women were still mostly considered less capable than a man. Indeed, women are still discriminated against men in several areas and no concrete actions are being taken by governments around the world, except for Iceland who became the first country to make gender pay gap illegal in January.
A popular gender issue is the gender pay gap. According to recent studies, women are the providers to at least half of the households in the UK but they are still prevented from getting an equal pay for the same job than their male colleagues. Although in the past, this could have been due to a lack of female education, this is no longer the case. Indeed, more than half of new university graduates are women, according to the World Economic Forum, but they were still paid 17.48% less in 2014 in the UK from an OECD study. Moreover, they are still underrepresented in managerial roles in
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Furthermore, women are still stigmatised for being victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. While the fuss around the issue at the end of last year led to more awareness of those issues. This hasn’t solved the main issues as for instance, at the beginning of February Cambridge admitted to the Guardian that they received 173 complaints about sexual misconduct in the past nine months. Indeed, at university, many people are still taking consent for granted taking a passive approach to people ripping women from their rights to say no.
This issue may even more dangerous as even women are turning against each other around this. At the start of the year, French female celebrities signed a letter in which they addressed their concern that this fuss about consent would undermine male-female relationships. They completely forgot from their privileged lifestyle and the harsh reality surrounding average women, whereby when they are a victim of those kinds of issues they are regarded as having brought that upon themselves and need to justify their look, actions, and even alcoholic intake. This deprives them of their human right of being physically safe and happy within their bodies.
Another problematic issue of equality is the right of contraceptive methods and access to abortion. This also has to do with a woman having the right to their own body. It is scandalous that 100 years after women were given the right to vote, men are still deciding on their physical health and access to contraception methods. While some countries are taking back some of women rights previously granted such as Poland which put back restrictions on women’s access to abortion. If the situation was inverted, men would be outraged to see a table with women signing a document asking them all to get a vasectomy.
Also, on the issue of contraceptive methods, a couple of years ago a medical research for male pills was dropped because some of the men tested were showing signs of depression due to the intake of the pills. Yet, all the female pills are playing their hormones and can make them feel depressed, can make them put on weights, and according to new research, it would increase their likelihood to get breast cancer. Still, society deems it as acceptable for women to undergo all of this but impossible for men to get a glimpse of what women have been sustaining in the past decades.
It would be unfair not to state that those issues can legitimately bring troubles for men too, for instance, they are deprived of equal rights to women regarding paternity leave and have a pressure from society to appear as the provider of the household.
A 100 years ago, women made a huge victory in getting the right to vote. Still, they would certainly consider the future as a failure as a hundred years wasn't enough for a woman to be treated as the equal of a man. Those models of male and female are obsolete and shouldn’t exist anymore. Women and men are both human beings and equal. They should have the same rights and women shouldn’t need to protest or ask their government for help either for their physical safety or for simply being granted human basic rights.