Women’s History Month: a time to reflect on women in the world today

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Staff Editorial

Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Amelia Earthhart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: all of these women have made an impact on the world we live in today, from founding the American Red Cross to being the Supreme Court’s second female justice. Women’s History Month originated from “Women’s History Week” in March 1982, and the first official Women’s History Month took place in March of 1987. Women’s History Month is a month to celebrate and honor women’s contributions to history, and a time to reflect on all women, including those who make a difference in their communities, and the world. Women still face countless challenges in the world and have to fight for equality every day. From gender stereotypes, unequal education, the pay gap and countless beauty standards, women struggle to obtain equality in every aspect of life. 

Women are bombarded with gender stereotypes everywhere they look and go. Society has countless ideals about how women should act, dress and present themselves in and out of public. The plain truth is, society does not own women or the idea of who women should be. Everyone is unique in their own way, and there should not be a generalized view of characteristics, roles or limitations between genders. Women’s History Month is a time where we honor women in history who did not let themselves be limited by what others thought of them. They reached beyond their assigned “gender roles” in society and contributed to the economy and the world we know today. Women used to be assumed as housewives, and as if they were incapable of doing more for the world all because of society’s gender stereotypes. Education used to be limited for women. It wasn’t until July 16, 1840, that a woman — (Catherine Brewer) — was able to obtain a college degree. All around the world education is still limited based on gender, and Women’s History Month is the perfect time to spread awareness for women in countries where their education is limited. 

Women are paid 82 cents to every dollar earned by men, says the American Association of University Women. The gender pay gap is an overwhelming issue in the world today, and women are left with so many losses because of this gap. Even though women outpace men in higher education, women are then overwhelmed with excessive student debt because the pay gap leads to loans being harder to pay off. When retiring, women are left with less social security and pensions, all because of the gender pay gap that follows them their whole lives. The gender pay gap is constantly overlooked, but it is a precedent that affects women of all ethnicities, ages and women living anywhere in the world. As a whole, women lose over $500 billion every year, states the American Association of University Women. This overwhelming pay gap cannot be overlooked, and the workforce as a whole should strive for equal pay among all. Some ways to start taking action against the pay gap are providing greater pay transparency, comparing jobs through analyses, providing greater understanding about pay practices and so many others. The phrase “leaky pipeline” is a reference to women having an underrepresentation in the workforce, leaving younger women with a lack of female role models. This also concerns bias against women in the workplace, interviews, etc., and work climates that are sexist or tolerant of sexual harassment. Research finds that 97% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed. Women are surrounded by people who make them feel uncomfortable in places that should be professional and intolerant of sexism and sexual harassment. Women deserve the same respect as anyone else, like any man, and anyone in and outside of the workplace. Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated and shouldn’t be something that a woman has to face or be told to keep quiet about if they have experienced it. Women all over the world are faced with harassment and sexual assault every day, and these issues are being looked over. Minority women especially are harassed and sexualized, and walking down the street is a feat many women are afraid to do without protection. Women deserve to be heard and deserve for everyone to listen to what they have to say. 

Beauty standards surround women from all sides, whether over social media, from a male in their life and even school dress codes. Teens are put into a box about what they should look like, dress like and who they shouldn’t look and dress like. No matter who they are or what they look like, the world tells women that they need to change. But they don’t need to change; contrary, the world needs to change. Teens don’t need to feel like they aren’t enough, just because the beauty standard tells them so. The beauty standard is a social construct that absorbs the ideals of those who believe in the “ideal feminine beauty,” and who see themselves as better than others. Social media oversexualizes younger women, and then uses this against them by acting as though it is their fault that the world is against them. Teenage girls are constantly attacked on social media for no reason at all. People shouldn’t be telling women what to do with their bodies, but instead empowering women in general.

Women’s History Month may be a time to honor women in history, but it is also a time to reflect on women today and how the world can change to strive for equality. Improvement and progress are always the goals, and there should never be a time where women are told that they “have enough” or “enough has been done.” It won’t be enough until true equality is achieved. So yes, women do get a month. They get a month where their voices can be heard, their stories can be told and the spotlight is on them. In most cases, the world is structured around men, in a sense “they have the other 11 months.” No one is losing anything by taking time to appreciate women.