On Jan. 21, the day after President Trump took office, millions of people around the world took to the streets in a bold demonstration of solidarity to rally for the rights of women and gender equality, above all else. For some, the Women’s March on Washington, and the many “sister marches” throughout the U.S. and abroad, provided a wake-up call to long-silent grievances. For others, the ills of gender inequality have endured as glaring cultural deficiencies for years.

Women have made enormous strides in the past decades. This past election season saw a woman nearly break through the topmost glass ceiling, but more work is still needed. Until all of us begin to view discrimination against women as a “societal” problem rather than as strictly a “female” problem, growth will remain stunted.

In a remarkable resurgence of feminist unity the city streets across the country were flooded with individuals, mostly women, donning pink hats and carrying signs that read, “Women’s rights are human rights,” or “#Grab America Back.” In Portland, nearly 100,000 people streamed into the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The multitude was joined by Douglas County residents who felt called to show their support as well.

“Women are not equal and we want equality. Back in the ‘70s, we were on the way there, and we’re not there yet,” said Francis Eatherington of Roseburg.

The tremendous outpouring of support and the diversity of voices raised begs the question, just how far have women come to gaining equality?

On the National Women’s Law Center website an interactive map shows what women make for every dollar made by men. In Oregon women overall earn an average of 80.8 cents for every dollar men make. But when the numbers are broken down even further by race the wage gap becomes even more dramatic with Asian American women earning 74.8 cents, African American women earning 70.2 cents, Native American women earning 61.6 cents and Latinas earning 51 cents.

The disparity extends even to Hollywood where, according to a 2016 Forbes magazine story, top paid actresses earned less than top paid actors. Jennifer Lawrence, who was named the top-earning female star, earned 71 percent at $46 million of what Dwayne Johnson, the top-earning male star, made at $64.5 million.

Outside the workplace women also face discrimination in education, athletics and as targets of sexual harassment in its many forms. The issues become even messier and more complex when diversity of race and sexuality are factored in. In many places abroad the challenges for women and girls are far greater.

The outpouring of support and the diversity of voices from women of multitudinous backgrounds, races and nationalities is promising for the future of equity between the sexes. Moreover the Women’s March is placing greater emphasis on creating a movement that is inclusive of other marginalized groups of women. More work, however, must be done to include men in the conversation.

The responsibility is everyone’s. Our humanity demands that we raise up those who are most in need of help. To accomplish this our way of approaching the issues and the terminology we use must alter. The Women’s March acknowledged this in their mission and vision statement that reads, “ We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families.” But the message fell short of real action.

A vast majority of the marchers were women, and rightly so. The march was, after all, named in the spirit of, for and by women.

When asked why he joined the van of Douglas County women protesting in Portland as the only man, Mike Martin responded that his wife had asked him. It is our hope that someday the desire to march for women’s rights will come naturally from the husband as well as the wife, the father as well as the daughter, the brother as well as the sister.

Other organizations have begun to recognize this need for greater inclusion of both sexes in the conversation. He for She, for example, is a UN Women solidarity campaign, the goal of which is to engage men and boys as ambassadors of change in the advancement of women. With advocates that include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, as well as a list of well-known artists including Forest Whitaker and Matt Damon the campaign is gaining traction.

Emphasizing the need for greater diversity of women within a feminist movement is of tremendous importance, but the invitation must also be extended to men. As many women discovered recently, progress is made at the pace of a gentle march on the road to equality. Yet, without the support of society as a whole true progress will never be achieved beyond political correctdness. The banner for women’s rights is one that should be carried by all.

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(9) comments

Mogie
Mogie

Sound8 that means only female concerns are considered human rights? What are all concerns that are human rights? Life, liberty and the persuit (sp?) of happiness are aren't they? And it is just dumb to not hire someone based of their sex or whatever. Who cares? I would just want my employee to do the best job possible.

mysteron
mysteron

No, all people have human rights. Your quote from the Declaration of Independence is the very bedrock on which this country was founded. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights codified that original document but the DOI was more about Human Rights, because as it states up front 'All men are created equal'. And by 'men' it means people.

Mogie
Mogie

If we are all truly equal no one special group would get special rights. Isn't it just good business to hire the person most qualified for the job? Who cares what sex you are or what color your skin is. It's who does the best job (results). But I guess we can't make those decisions - government has to do that for us. How did we survive all these years without their politically correct wisdom?

Dawn
Dawn

I agree with you Mogie!

mysteron
mysteron

in theory that is morally and ethically the way it should be. However human nature and human prejudice interferes in that 'perfect' world and that prejudice creates inequality. I have seen many examples of prejudice, partizanship and other factors influence what is the 'right' decision. Government 'interferes' in an attempt to remove that prejudice and create a level playing field. Yes we have constitutional rights, but we have human rights that should transcend those put in writing. It is by those human rights and how we deal with them that we will ultimately be judged.

Mogie
Mogie

I asked my hubby a question and he couldn't answer it. This is a sincere question. But what exactly are human rights? I have heard this term used before but am not sure of the exact meaning. What are a list of human rights?

Kmoore61
Kmoore61

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/edumat/hreduseries/hereandnow/Part-5/8_udhr-abbr.htm

Here's a handy link, Mogie.

Sound8
Sound8

Humans rights are getting the job because you qualify instead of being turned down because you are female, of a different ethnic race or other reasons. It's a very simple answer.

mysteron
mysteron

Human rights are also getting the job that pays the same wage regardless of whether it is done by a man or a woman. Human rights are the right to self determination whether they be political, religious, social, or medical. Human rights are living free without fear of persecution, bigotry, prejudice, marginalization, slavery, and unlawful imprisonment because of that right to self-determination.

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