The month of March is Women’s History Month. For this year, the theme for the commemoration is announced by the National Women’s History Alliance to be “Valiant Women of the Vote.”
Centuries of struggle
This month serves as a time for us to celebrate the contributions of women to history, culture, and society, which have been often overlooked given the dominance of patriarchal societies in the past — and even today.
The theme stems from the fact that this year is the centennial year of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This document granted the right of American women to vote, also known as women’s suffrage.
For decades, this right has been taken away from women. Even in the years that followed, women continued to protest against other oppressive policies like poll taxes, literacy tests, and even voter roll purges.
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The battle might have given women of America the right to vote now, but each day, they continue to be discriminated against on the basis of gender. This is the same case for women around the world.
A powerful movement
This celebration started as a one-day event. Starting the year 1911, some countries have started observing International Women’s Day every March 8. Eventually, local groups started celebrating Women’s History Week.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter formally designated the week beginning on March 8 that year as National Women’s History Week, marking the first official observance in the national level.
“Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well,” President Carter said in his message during the formal designation.
States then started declaring March as National Women’s History Month. Finally, the Congress declared the first official National Women’s History Month in March 1987.
The battle continues
Even in developed countries, gender inequality is still very much existent. This is in spite of the insistence of some that the world right now treats men and women equally.
In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report, these inequalities are formally quantified through the Global Gender Gap Index:
Currently, the Forum points to the political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity as the key challenges that must be combatted, having the lowest dimension scores, as shown in the above graph.
Looking at the overall index, we can see that only 68% of the overall gap is closed among the 149 countries that were included in the measurement. There is still a long way to go for us.
Based on their projections, it would take around 108 years to fully close the overall gender gap. This is a great illustration of the strides that still need to be made in order to truly attain gender equality.
With this, the struggle for equality continues, hopefully, not only confined in the month of March.