The Current State Of Women’s Equality

A few months ago I was reading an article online in the Calgary Herald about women and pay inequity in the workplace; after skimming down to the bottom where readers get to post their comments I was shocked to see a comment posted by a woman that read something along the lines of, “women need to stop their bitching and whining about equality issues. It’s 2011 get over it…we are equal.” The truth is that equality in relation to men is still out of reach for most women worldwide.  

Photo courtesy of European Parliament

I guess in some sense it’s always good to try to understand where someone else is coming from. And in attempting to do so my first instinct was that this woman must obviously live in some sort of an economic bubble, is in extreme denial or ultimately, the comment must have come from a man posing as a woman.

Without going on a rant and stating that in 2012 women STILL make roughly 77.8 cents on the dollar in comparison to men in the United States, if you’re under the impression that women (and yes, we have made some great headway on the road to equality) are equal to men in all aspects of the equation, then I invite you to check out a story I stumbled upon on CNN posted on November 22, 2011 titled: “Afghan woman's choice: 12 years in jail or marry her rapist and risk death”.

Photo courtesy of the US Embassey Kabul Afghanistan

Not only is this an obvious demonstration of discrimination against women, but here is a story that demonstrates social injustice and lack of basic human rights that many women around the world know as their reality.

The pay inequity example is clearly on the opposite end of the spectrum when you consider the fact that, in many cultures, women will never attain justice for crimes committed against them. The Afghan woman in the video has been sentenced to 12 years in prison as a victim of rape; what’s worse is that she is now perceived by her culture and her very own family as tainted. Women in these circumstances aren’t given real choices; they are told what to do. In this case — “marry the man who raped you or spend 12 years in jail.” I’m baffled.

I can’t impose my own beliefs on those of another culture, but nonetheless I don’t understand.   In my opinion, this is an attack on women. I can’t help but picture myself in the shoes of this young Afghan woman and feel absolute empathy for women around the world who are forced to live this way.

Photo courtesy of Craftivist Collective's Photostream

So when women in North America complain about unequal pay, are we “whining”? People can call women whiners; say that we are never content with our situation. But what’s worse is hearing it from women who choose to “look the other way,” so to speak.   “Equal” in our own daily lives or the social bubble we live in, perhaps. Equal in the grand scheme of things? No way. As women we must continue to support one another. Even when certain injustices seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from our own challenges, we must continue to push and let our voices be heard — otherwise things will never change.

Whether you are a woman in the workplace pushing for pay equal to that of your male counterparts or a woman in Afghanistan forced to endure severe consequences for your voice to be heard, every initiative forms a link to a movement that makes us stronger regardless of the scale of severity.

So when we say that equal pay and basic human rights are on two different levels, in terms of basic fundamentals are they? Or are they simply two pieces of the very same puzzle? After all, in the end, we are fighting for the same cause just on a different scale.