When Cyndi Lauper sang ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, she may have left out a few other things girls may want to have. Like equal opportunities, representation in a man’s world and the freedom to be daring, to simply name a few. With the lingering presence of International Women’s Day (March 8th) in the midst of Women's History Month, we decided to look at the history of women in the journey to the place of empowerment generations before us have made possible.
Women empowerment refers to women having complete control over all aspects of their lives and having an active and equally recognised opinion and position in their society. Centuries have passed and things have definitively changed for women’s rights hence the society we have to date. The 20th century was the beginning of a new age for women in the UK and US. After a persistent movement created by middle-class women to fight for the same opportunities given to their male counterparts, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed and allowed women over age 30 to vote. Following closely after, women were then granted the same rights as men to own and dispose property in 1926 while already having rights to work outside the household in the 1800s.
Since then, several acts have been passed to liberate women and step into a more equal world. However, this progress only chips away the tip of the iceberg of years of gender inequality therefore, there is more room for improvement. For instance, women stray away from studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields or tend to leave these fields due to taking care of their families, hostility from male colleagues, feelings of isolation or lack of executive support. Women are the primary victims of gender based violence and still battle societal double standards in regards to dress, opinions and stereotypes.
Aside from human rights such as respect and equality, being a privilege every person is obliged to, the liberation of women opens doors to various possibilities in all sectors. It reduces domestic violence rates and allow fair access to quality education. Most especially, it would create opportunities for more women to be inspired by others, gain self-confidence and take a stand in the world. With the long way women have come in history, it seems like one day may not be enough to highlight every monumental moment achieved and to be achieved. Therefore, for everything that has been done, is being done and will be done in the name of equality and freedom, we celebrate persistent, determined and beautiful women every day. Happy International Women's Day, everyday!
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By Lela Pea, Editor