In honour of March eighth, the internationally-recognized day dedicated to all women, it is important to step back and analyze as well as appreciate how far women have come in their fight for equality, respect, and empowerment.
Historically, civilizations around the world have inherently and systematically discriminated against females and simply considered them property of their husbands. In the past, women were seen as inferior to men: they were not considered citizens, had no right to be educated, vote, or be part of office, and even had minimal rights in marriage and parenthood. It was only in the late 18th century that female equality was begun to be talked about. With the age of Enlightenment came the realization that women are humans as well, and deserve, therefore, respect and ethical treatment. This new way of thinking united females all over the world to start protests and active reform movements toward female suffrage, equal employment benefits/pay, maternity/marriage rights, property rights, and many other fundamental freedoms. The movements were, at first, very controversial and opposed by both conservative men and women who were unwilling to accept change. Thus, social change did not occur overnight. It took years for dedicated females (better known today as heroes of the female rights movement) to negotiate with firms, governments, and important officials the rights that were naturally supposed to be granted to all human beings. Many milestones were reached, in this way, by the end of the 1900’s. Countries reformed their statutes and constitutions to include and equate females to males in areas such as education, medicine, and criminal conduct. The concept of “feminism” was introduced and females, feeling more empowered, began to seek social freedom and wider reform. International organizations such as the “International Council of Women” as well as a UN “Commission on the Status of Women” were established to further the cause of international gender equality.
Coming back to the present, in 2019, modern society is proud of the accomplishments that the female rights movement has achieved. But with the development of new technology and innovations, as well as advanced social norms, there are still many areas where a clear gender gap can be observed. In particular, third-world countries are much more behind in the movement compared to their developed, economically-superior counterparts. It is still difficult for young women in countries like Guatemala to be educated and avoid the duty of forced early marriage.
Apart from this, there are many other issues and debates concerning female equality today. A perfectly egalitarian society is far from having been reached. Nonetheless, all contributors to the movement should feel pride, since, comparing the situation of the past with that of today, much progress can be observed. And with these accomplishments has come an international awareness, that which is more important than any new statute and reformed law of gender equality. As we are all united and aware of the issues, it is possible to collectively improve treatment towards both genders and instill social norms that will stimulate equal treatment and respect for both genders alike. In this way, I believe society is, slowly but surely, moving in the right direction towards a better future for both genders.