Feminism is about changing the way the world perceives the strength of a woman
“Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings”- Unknown
I recently returned from a trip to Peru and during my four-week stay, I was fortunate enough to spend time in the local village of Pucamarca which is located in the district of Chinchero outside of Cusco. I spent the morning with a group of Quecha women who made offerings to the land before they began their morning’s work which consisted of weaving beautiful textiles by hand. I inquired about their textile business, their culture, their life in the village and my mind began to think about all of the strong women I have met all over the world who are disempowered because society does not see them as “strong” as men. Take, for example, the women in Tanzania, who are undervalued and are forced to stay home to take care of the family, endure female mutilation (link is external) and marry into polygamy tribes solely to avoid prostitution. Or the women who are outcasted because they are not able to bear children. While living in Tanzania for a year, I watched the women and girls in my home collect water from the stream every day, go to school, wash the laundry by hand, go to the market, spend hours cooking meals and hold a job. These were some of the strongest women I have ever met yet they were weak in the eyes of African society because they lacked a Y chromosome and for this women are not given the equal chances as men. While primary school enrollment among girls and boys is nearly equivalent in Tanzania, less than 20 percent of women age 20-24 have completed secondary school and 20 percent have had no education at all. The same holds true for other developing countries around the world such as India and Cambodia. While working in India, I witnessed the housegirl undergo reconstructive surgery because she was lit on fire by her husband for disobeying his orders. In the United States, women can make their own choices however we are still fighting for our role in society. Fighting for equal pay and fighting against sexual harassment are just two common battles we are fighting every day in the United States.
Women are expected to give birth, cook, clean, take care of the children, and earn a living. In fact, There are about 85 million mothers in America, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate and about 71% of these women are working mothers. Although the glass ceiling is being raised compared to recent years, it still exists. Today, on average, a woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns (link is external), and women’s median annual earnings are $10,086 less than men’s, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Regardless of these statistics, we still go to work, take care of our families, clean our homes and continue to fight for equality because we are strong.
How we can close the gender gap
Women have been strong since the point of inception however only until recently has society started to understand the true strength of this gender. Society’s views are finally changing, little by little. But yet, so many of us are disempowered. We can teach our daughters to be strong and to say “no”. We can travel the world and teach women empowerment courses and the importance of staying in school. We can stand at the White House and protest against the gender wage gap and we can stand up for other women who need our help. We can fight against mental health stigma and teach about birth control and safe sex practices. We can learn self-defense and learn how to shoot a gun. We can vote only for those politicians who support women’s rights. We can fight harder to enforce tougher rape chargers. We can cook barefoot in the kitchen and earn a six-figure salary. We can fight in the military, climb mountains, run marathons, give birth, and run for president. We can continue to do all of these things because we are strong and we never give up. However, we have always been strong and we have always been able to be successful, it is our society that has hindered us and is still hindering us.
The only way we can overcome the gender gap in both developing and developed countries is for our societies to start teaching men, from a young age, how valuable and how strong women are. Men need to overcome their ignorance and chauvinistic ways but men are not the only culprits, women are also guilty of allowing this. So many young girls believe beauty is in the man’s eyes and we must marry and have children to be successful in society. So many women use their bodies to be accepted and will go to extreme lengths to obtain this beauty. Women need to stop allowing other women to act like this. We also need to stop competing with each other and start lifting each other up.