This month is Women’s History Month, and there’s a lot to celebrate. Women’s issues have been at the forefront of the national and global consciousness, and that shows no signs of slowing down. That being said, women aren’t as appreciated as we’d like to be, and nowadays, they’re being a lot more vocal about that. That’s why on March 8th, 2017, women all over the place decided to go on strike. They wanted to show just how important women are to society by not participating in it for a day, to illustrate just how many things would come careening to a halt if they weren’t there.
I myself participated in the Day Without Women. I took the day off of work and took that time to take care of myself and learn about what women truly contribute to society. The impact women have on society can be felt by every single person on the planet, partially because, well, women literally are half of society. This is why it’s important that women receive all the rights that men enjoy. You might not think that women are at a significant disadvantage in society, but you’d be surprised to find out that for all the things that women do, they don’t actually get thanked for any of it. Here are just a few things you should know about women, their contributions to society, and the unique struggles that come with being a woman alive today.
15. Women Spend More On Domestic Work
It’s probably not a secret that on average, women do more household chores than men. I can name any set of statistics that shows this. However, that’s not really the interesting part of this. The interesting part of this is that women tend to do all of this stuff without being noticed. For many households, if women didn’t do the housework, the housework would never get done. This isn’t to say that men don’t do housework, but statistically, women tend to take on the brunt of that. That’s because while men will very often pull their own weight, it’s often women who do the emotional and mental work of running a household. On top of that, running a household is kind of a job in itself, and unfortunately, it doesn’t pay. Even when women aren’t working, they’re working. While it’s important to acknowledge that more and more men are pulling their own weight in this department, it’s also important to acknowledge that women have been doing housework for millennia with no one to recognize their efforts.
14. Women Take On The Brunt Of Childcare
Women don’t just take on the brunt of housework, they do the majority of childcare as well. Unfortunately, childcare in America is expensive, uneven, and sometimes nearly impossible to procure for your kids. Many women, especially if they’re working class, find themselves in impossible positions when it comes to balancing work and family, and that can be blamed for the child care situation. The issues with the wage gap are starting to get better, what with new attention on the subject, but while wages for women are going up, childcare costs are skyrocketing. With child care becoming increasingly difficult to get, more and more women have to alter their work schedules to fit in with childcare, or even pull out of the workforce altogether so they can take care of their children. Considering that childcare is so expensive, and women are already at a disadvantage on the wages front, this just seems unfair.
13. 97% Of US Kindergarten Teachers Are Women
Women don’t just take care of children in their homes, they’re probably taking care of your children, too. According to one study that came out in early 2014, there are 785,151 male teachers in public education classrooms all over the country. That’s a lot, but that number is nothing compared to the 2.4 million women who are teachers. This disparity gets even more egregious the more you break these statistics down by grade and state. When it comes to the breakdown of male teachers by state, on average, men make up 25% of teachers across all states, but there are big differences depending on where you live. Arkansas has the worst rate of male teachers at 17%, while Kansas leads them all with a male teacher percentage of over 30%. The differences get even starker when you look at grades. Men tend to teach more at higher grades, like middle school and high school, but as the kids get younger, the less likely it is that you’ll see a man at the head of the classroom. Women make up over 97% of kindergarten teachers overall, and the rate of male to female teachers doesn’t really even out until you get to high school.
12. 155 Countries Have Restrictions On Women’s Economic Opportunities
Even if a woman can get through all the red tape of dealing with childcare and life at home, she could still run into roadblocks that her own government had a hand in setting up. The more people work, the more an economy grows, so it stands to reason that the more women work, the more an economy grows. That hasn’t stopped politicians from making it harder for women to work for whatever reason. According to one study that looked at the economies of 143 countries, almost 90% of those had some sort of restriction in place that limited the economic opportunities of their female constituents in some way. 79 of those economies have laws that mandate the jobs women can do and the jobs they can’t. To make matters worse, in 15 economies, a man can legally object to and stop his wife from working, even if she wants to.
11. Women Get A Disproportionate Amount Of Internet Hate
The Internet can be a pretty complicated place to navigate no matter who you are, but it can be that much harder if you’re a woman. This isn’t just about being a woman on the Internet, either: being a woman in the public eye in any medium can be a really difficult thing to navigate for a variety of reasons. Some women find themselves being harassed because they hold opinions that men disagree with, or are the faces of a movement that they dislike. One good example of this is the Gamergate fiasco, where women like Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu were attacked and threatened by guys who disliked their message. No matter what you think about the subject, harassment shouldn’t ever be okay, and there seem to be times where people genuinely forget that.
10. All About The Wage Gap
I know I’m walking into murky territory talking about the wage gap, especially considering the many different statistics out there and the way people get really upset about this, but it’s important to talk about this. On a global scale, women make less than men. In most countries, women will earn about 60%-75% of what a man does, on average. There’s a lot that contributes to that, including things that we’ve already touched upon and things that we’re going to get into later on. For now, what you need to know is that there’s a lot working against women when it comes to getting equal pay, and there’s a lot to be gained from untangling that red tape. Women could increase their income by around 76%, on a global average, if the wage gap was closed. The more women work, the more they should earn, and women getting equal pay won’t mess with what men get, either. It’s literally a win/win situation.
9. Employment For Women Is A Lot Less Stable On Average
Another thing that really doesn’t help the wage gap situation is the fact that all over the world, women are working in jobs that are a lot less stable. Women are a lot more likely than men to work in informal employment situation across the globe. In South Asia, over 80% of women are working in non-agricultural jobs that are informal. In sub-Saharan Africa, it’s something around 74%, which is better than South Asia but still nothing to brag about. As for Latin America and the Caribbean, that number drops down to 54%. Across the world, women who live in rural areas work in farming jobs too, so this isn’t even painting the whole picture about informal employment worldwide. To make matters worse, the livelihood those women are carving out for themselves from these jobs is almost always informal, and a lot of the time, those women aren’t getting paid.
8. All About Rape Culture
I may be playing with fire here, but I couldn’t write this without giving some primer about rape culture. It’s a controversial topic because the words “rape” and “culture” together make people really uncomfortable, and that discomfort makes people want to say it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, it does. Rape culture refers to how we as a society think about and handles rape and the ways that sexual assault and rape are ignored, made into jokes, or even made to seem normal. You might not think this is a thing, but I can promise you that it is. From songs that glorify the blurred lines between consent and assault, to the way rape victims are blamed or even criminalized for their own assaults, rape culture is a big deal. It’s something we should be aware of, but I should warn you: once you’re aware of it, you might start seeing it everywhere. The fact that it can be seen everywhere is proof that we need to be talking about this.
7. Women In Politics
Remember when I was talking about women in the public eye? This is kind of like that, multiplied by at least ten. Women in politics have worked very long and hard to get where they are now, and that’s true of women in politics all over the world. Women have campaigned for different positions all across the political spectrum, and some women are a lot better at it than others, much like men. That being said, some countries are a lot better about letting women lead than others. For example, the United States is one of the few countries that has never had a female head of state. No matter what you thought of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the fact that she’s the first major party presidential candidate that’s a woman shows that the United States is almost comically late to the party. Countries that have human rights violations more egregious than ours have had female heads of state before.
6. Women Are More Likely To Go To College, But Less Likely To Be Able To Read
Recent studies have shown that women are a lot more likely to go to college these days. All things considered, this is pretty excellent news. Keep in mind, there was a time where women couldn’t actually get educations if they wanted them, so the fact that more women are getting quality educations than men is kind of amazing. Unfortunately, while women around the world are getting more educated, it hasn’t solved the problem of worldwide female literacy. Women are a lot less likely than men to learn how to read. This means that while women might be more likely to narrow the wage gap due to their education in the developed world, women in the developing world are still very much in trouble. Literacy doesn’t just allow you to read, it allows you to navigate the world with ease, and it’s something that everyone should have access to regardless of gender.
5. Women Are Much More Likely To Live Below The Poverty Line
According to the 2014 Census Poverty Data, women are a lot more likely to live under the poverty line than men. The National Women’s Law Center has broken down the rates of poverty in households headed by women by state, and no matter what state you’re in, it’s not exactly the prettiest picture. Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington DC have a 25%-30% poverty rate among households headed by women. If you think that’s bad, it only gets worse from there. 20 states have a poverty rate of 40%-50%, and the rest have a poverty rate of 30%-40%. You can read all about the data broken down by state here. These rates get even worse when you break down the data even further and look at the different races, ethnicities and demographics and their rate of poverty across the country.
4. The Worst Countries For Women’s Rights
We actually already did an article about the countries where it’s hardest to be a woman not that long ago! We found that there are countries all over the world where it’s nearly impossible to be a woman, and not all of those countries are the ones you’d think. We often think that the worst countries to be a woman are countries in the Middle East, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but that’s definitely not the whole picture. Countries like Somalia, Honduras, Pakistan and India also made the list. Some of these countries have had issues with women’s rights, while others have extremely high rates of femicide. Still, others have health crises that disproportionately affect women, like India’s HIV epidemic. If you’re looking to find out more, check out the link!
3. Being A Minority And A Woman Is A Special Kind Of Disadvantage
If you think being a woman can be really hard at times, women of color often have it even worse. They basically have to deal with the brunt of everything women deal with, on top of the things that their minority group has to deal with. Needless to say, that’s not often very fun. Remember the wage gap we talked about earlier? If you’re a woman in a minority group, the wage gap gets even bigger, believe it or not. Women in all major ethnic and racial groups earn less than men in those racial and ethnic groups, and those men, in turn, earn less than white guys and even white women. In a 2013 study involving the US, it was found that Hispanic women, on average, earn 91% of what Hispanic men earn, but only 61% of what white men earn. As for black women, they earn 91.3% of what black men earn, but only 68.6% of what white men earn. Needless to say, this is all really depressing stuff, and it shows that the wage gap isn’t just something sexist, it’s xenophobic on a lot of levels.
2. Domestic Violence Is Still A Major Issue
We haven’t even touched upon domestic violence, which is kind of a travesty considering how much of an issue it is for women everywhere. While intimate partner violence can and does happen to men, women experience the brunt of it. To make matters worse, it hasn’t been very long since intimate partner violence became illegal. According to statistics, about 20 people are victims of intimate partner violence per minute in the United States. That equates to about 10 million men and women throughout the country. We can expect one in three women to be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime, which is an astronomical amount of people to have to go through that. Around 4,000 women die every year due to domestic violence, and 75% of those were killed as they were trying to leave the relationship. This isn’t even taking in the fact that 73% of male abusers were victims of abuse themselves, making abuse, specifically domestic abuse, a tragic cycle.
1. Women Are Amazing And Deserve All Of The Rights
There’s a lot more to get into here. We could go on for days about how women are affected by different issues all over the world. Honestly, even writing this primer was kind of a major undertaking because of all the numbers involved and trying to figure out what issues we should talk about here. After all, these issues affect women differently depending on who they are, where they live, and their economic standing. Women’s rights issues will affect women in the US differently than women in developing countries, or even women who live in countries that aren’t superpowers the way the United States is. The important thing to take away from this is that women’s issues deserve to be heard, and women deserve to have their problems solved. This Women’s History Month, make it a point to get familiar with women’s issues, if not for your own education, then for the women in your life. Women’s issues should be everyone’s issues.