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IWD: Are Men and Women Equal?

International Women’s Day is March 8th. The first IWD was in 1911, and was supported by over a million people. The theme of this International Women’s Day is #eachforequal, a gender equal world that we all fight for.

It’s a great theme, because we have yet to achieve this kind of equality in today’s world. It’s clear that in other countries, women don’t have equal rights, but we are still fighting for equality in America as well, despite the feminist movement.

Feminism is described as “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” The feminist movement is known as having three waves: the first wave of feminism was for the right to vote and have property; second wave feminism was about anti-discrimination and equality; third wave feminism was in response to the second wave and dealt with the privileging of white, straight women.

Some people believe feminists hate men, or even think men are inferior to women, but that’s not what feminism is. It truly is, at its most simple, that women want to be equal to men, and that even men are being affected by the fact that women are not equal to them.

So how are we still not equal? Well, for starters, women are paid less. “Women make 77 percent of the amount paid to men, according to a report from the United Nation's International Labor Organization.” For black and hispanic women, the numbers are even worse. There are arguments that women work less hard than men, and that’s why we get paid less. There are also arguments that men are entitled to more, as the known “breadwinners.” But that’s not what #eachforequal is about. I wouldn’t want a man to make less than me, if we were doing the same job with the same level of experience; and I hope the feeling would be reciprocated!

There are also statistics showing that as women cross into male dominated industries, the pay scale actually drops. “15.5 percent of women live in poverty compared with 11.9 percent of men, according to a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.”

The tampon tax: we are taxed for tampons and feminine hygiene products, when men are not taxed for Viagra, an unnecessary product. There is a movement called “Menstrual Equity” that is taking the nation by storm as women and their supporters demand that feminine hygiene products not be taxed, that there is more education on reproductive health, and equal access to hygiene products.

Periods are bad enough as it is, but to have to be taxed on top of that is ridiculous and, in some cases, cruel. Some women can’t even afford feminine hygiene products, and women in prison are only given a certain number of products to last them - which, sometimes, isn’t enough. We are being taxed for something we have no control over, and something which is a huge part of being a woman, period (pun intended).

Women are underrepresented in the government. According to an article by Carnegie: Endowment for International Peace, “Women currently hold 19.3 percent of seats in the House of Representatives and 21.0 percent in the Senate. Over the past decade, these percentages have barely increased. At the current rate of progress, women will not achieve full legislative parity in the U.S. Congress for another hundred years.”

Other countries, especially in Europe, are much further ahead with representation of women in office, as compared to the United States. Women in office are judged for how they dress and how they look, more than their ideas, which makes little to no sense - we’re here for change and political action, not a fashion debate.

Women are underrepresented in sports, women are paid less in Hollywood and are given less roles, women are the minority in tech companies and in the news media, etc. I could go on for pages about why women are not equal to men just yet. And that’s what IWD is about: gaining awareness to go forth and change this.

We have to take action and speak up. We have to vote, and look to other countries - such as Sweden - for a better example of how to treat women. And by the way, I don’t just mean white, wealthy, straight women.

We must fight for gay women, women of color, trans women, and any other who identifies as a woman but doesn’t fit into a box or mold. This is a fight for all women, everywhere, and we must never stop trying to achieve equality at last!


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