Feminism and the fight for women’s rights has been a long, difficult journey in the United States and other parts of the world. Though there are many female heads of state and a woman is a serious contender for the 2016 presidency in the US, there is are still several barriers that committed feminists strive to break down. While it is important to celebrate these credible milestones that feminists have achieved through decades–even centuries—it is important to remember that there are still obstacles to overcome on the path to real and lasting equality.
Celebrating Past Achievements
Modern feminists have made important strides that affect the lives of millions of women worldwide today. From the right to vote to access to birth control, these achievements did not happen overnight, but took years of campaigning, demonstrating, and convincing others to join the fight against inequality between sexes. Even so, it would be a mistake to think that the fight for equality is over. With all of the attention raised by these efforts, it is shocking how slowly progress is being made, especially in the U.S. While there have been a number of high-profile female CEO hires recently, only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at companies in the S&P 500 are held by women, and out of 500 companies, there are only 24 female CEOs. Women only comprise 19.4% of the U.S. Congress, 20% of the Senate, and 19.3% of the House of Representatives. That being said, feminism in the 21st century still matters greatly and there remains considerable work to be done.
Feminists in the 21st Century in the U.S.
Today’s feminists continue to struggle to be heard. Some people mistakenly believe that the fight for women’s rights has been won, but there are still obstacles that must be tackled. For instance, women still earn less than men for similar job roles in many industries. In fact, in 2014, women working full time in the U.S. were paid an average of 79% of what men were paid, and women of color were paid even less. While gender-based violence has waned, it still exists. Today’s feminists must also fight to maintain the freedoms already won, like access to multiple forms of birth control and reproductive healthcare. While it is illegal to discriminate against women in the job world, it still occurs. Consequently, today’s feminists must strive to cast light on these violations and work to protect the rights of women in the United States and beyond.
Celebrating Feminism Means Getting Involved
Because feminists still have significant work to do in the US and in nations throughout the world, it is important to keep the conversation about women’s rights going. Recognizing the achievements of fellow feminists is a vital part of the celebration of feminism and its great works, but spotlighting instances of injustice is also an essential way to promote feminism on the local and national level. As gender equality erodes in various parts of the world, it falls to feminists and societies that celebrate gender equality to work for women’s rights where they can. Both men and women can support the causes of feminism by listening to feminists, young and old. Encourage young women to understand their rights and to fight for them if need be, and to remain a voice as the conversation about gender equality continues from one year to the next.
While women today enjoy more freedoms than ever before, those freedoms are in jeopardy in many parts of the world. Therefore, when celebrating the victories of feminists of the past, it is equally important to support feminists of today as they work to maintain gender equality where it has been won and where it is still a need.