In the midst of populist rhetoric and the spread of hate speech, women in the United States still find themselves lagging behind leading developed countries on the issue of gender-based discrimination as the majority feel that they are not respected.
A recent poll released by Gallup shows that only 48 percent of women in the United States believe that women are treated with respect and dignity.
In a similar poll that surveyed men and women in 21 other countries on the perception of respect towards women, Gallup ranked the US at number 22 with Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark in the top 3 spots.
With an average of 59 percent of American people rating their residents as respectful towards women, the U.S. also has the largest gender gap with regard to the perception of respect between men and women.
While 70 percent of American men rated the residents of their country as respectful to women, only 48 percent of women were found to have the same perception.
In comparison, both Austria and Switzerland held similar ratings with an average of 94 percent and a 4 point gender gap. These polls show that despite great advances in women’s rights across the U.S., women still face gender-based discrimination, which leads to an increased sentiment of hostility and disrespect.
Two years since the wave of the #Metoo movement gained momentum on social media to end taboos related to sexual assault and harassment, many have spoken up about their own experiences with gender-based violence.
Ranging from actresses to campaign workers and ordinary citizens, the hashtag not only encourages women to vocalize their experiences with sexual harassment, it also unified and universalized the movement against gender-based violence and discrimination.
As a result, a widespread renewed interest in the fight to end gender-based violence and shed light on sexual harassment is taking place.
‘Strong in Theory, Beleaguered in Practice’
“Women’s rights in the U.S. are strong in theory but beleaguered in practice, and institutionalized in fragile ways,” Alison Brysk, Human rights expert and Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara told The Globe Post.
Brysk stresses the importance of legislative reforms that protect victims of gender-based violence.
“We do not have Constitutional protection and some of our legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act require periodic renewal,” Said Brysk.
The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, was originally enacted in 1994 under the Clinton administration to create an ‘engaged criminal justice system and coordinated community response’ to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
My mommy, Sandy, was beaten for being too pretty, too ugly, too smart, too dumb, too black. Let us reject the myth that strong women, bold women, independent women, do not find themselves in the throes of violence at the hands of someone who claimed to love them. #VAWA #VAWA19 pic.twitter.com/9dXeUsCKTd
— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) April 4, 2019
Over the years, the VAWA was reauthorized in order to adapt and meet the needs of the time. In 2013 for example, the Obama administration reauthorized VAWA with changes that included the protection of Native American women and members of the LGBTQ community.
In 2019 however, the act expired twice before the House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday reauthorizing the VAWA in a 263 to 158 vote. Affected by the month-long government shutdown that ended in late January of this year, the VAWA expired on the 15th of February after its exclusion from the spending bill.
As Brysk points out, women’s rights are human rights and enhancing policies that protect those rights is to the benefit of the entire community.
“Women’s rights are fundamental human rights, but also systematically linked to global development, security, public health, and other forms of well-being,” she said.
“Numerous social science studies show that societies with better women’s rights protection function better in terms of levels of democracy, prosperity, crime, and health.”
Ileen DeVault, Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell University and Professor of Labor History said working women in the United States suffer from a great disadvantage when it comes to maternity leave.
“Many women now truly believe that they can do anything, but there will be conflict between building a career and taking care of the household,” DeVault told The Globe Post. “If you slack at work, you might not get that raise.”
Policies like paid parental leave are not only instrumental in the success of women in the workplace, they can also contribute to the proper development of children in the early stages of life where maternal nurturing is essential.
According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, only 14 percent of civilian workers in the U.S. had access to paid parental leave. In contrast, all parents in Germany are entitled to up to 3 years of parental leave after the birth of their child with the guarantee that their jobs will not be terminated.
Although the U.S. lags far behind Germany in regard to maternity leave, promising advancements are planned for the near future. The Office of Paid Family Leave or OPFL, for example, plans to administer a paid family leave program in 2020 for employees in Washington DC.
First steps will be taken in early July of 2019 where the district will start the collection of taxes from employers. The district is set to administer family leave benefits in early July of 2020.
More on the Subject
Female politicians and journalists of color in Britain and the U.S. are disproportionately targeted for online abuse, according to a crowdsourced study that found they received “problematic messages” every 30 seconds on average.
The assessment — by Amnesty International and artificial intelligence company Element AI — found that black women in these roles were 84 percent more likely than white counterparts to receive abusive messages on Twitter in 2017.