On August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1920. The amendment prohibits the states and federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens based on sex. Mississippi was the last state in the union to ratify the amendment in 1984.
The women’s rights fight started in the 1770s. Since then, women of all ethnicities have been fighting for the right to vote, own land, and keep their earnings. They’ve been fighting for gender equality, reproductive rights, ability to hold a government job, and equal pay.
Today, the fight carries on after over 250 years of the struggles for women to have the same opportunities as men.
What is equality?
Equality is the state of being the same in status, rights, and opportunities. Social equality is when all people have the same civil rights and the same access to social services.
Gender discrimination persists today, consciously or unconsciously, causing inequalities between men and women. Our society continues to have stereotypes and misconceptions around the physical strength, endurance, job competencies, skills, flexibility, mobility, and leadership capabilities of women.
Discrimination could be direct, such as hiring for a job that both men and women can do and asking for only men to apply. Discrimination can also be indirect, such as setting up unclear access rules that unfairly punish women.
Why promote gender equality?
- Support basic human rights. Human rights are vital for the growth of every person and every society. These rights protect the liberties and freedom of citizens against any type of attack by the state or other human beings.
- Bridge the inequality gap. Support efforts to end poverty and hunger, and invest in health, education, and social safety for all at-risk groups. These can be good first steps to help fix the main problems.
- Encourage social progress. When people are given equal opportunities, they contribute to the community. This reduces social and economic disadvantages.
- Enhance innovation. When people from diverse groups offer their unique perspectives, they contribute to creative solutions to difficult problems.
How can we all promote gender equality?
- Assess the situation. Find the gaps and types of conscious or unconscious discrimination. Improve the culture with new opportunities for change or improvement.
- Change the culture. Carry out programs that engage and involve everybody. Develop training that promotes equality and helps everybody to learn.
- Open opportunities. Create spaces where each person feels involved, treated fairly, and safe to share their ideas.
- Track and communicate results. A system to measure and share results will help identify the impact of those programs and where there is room for growth.
- Commit to equality. Remove barriers to give everybody fair and equal opportunities. Make equality part of your core values and keep it at the center of what you do.
Today, gender equality remains a topic around the world. It is also an important part of a business model. Taking steps to bridge the gap should be a global purpose and a company pledge to help make sure that all human beings have equal opportunities.