Probably not. Yesterday a 17 year old girl, Malala Yousafzai, shared the Nobel Peace Prize; the winners cited “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” How many girls in America struggle? Far too many.
“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” – United Nations Resolution 66/170
A simple truth is that gender inequality begins at conception. Is it simply culture? No, I don’t believe so…it is rooted in physiological differences and procreation roles; these are natural facts that have influenced the paths of social Darwinism. Where there has been philosophical advancement, social enlightenment has neglected the value and role of women for the sole purpose of maintaining a dominance that serves the interests of the “haves.” Somehow, somewhere, long, long ago, women became chattel. And the luster of that property is diminished by the exercise of “ownership rights” by men.
Women are diminished by patriarchal attempts to protect that ownership. These are clearly manifest in laws restricting women’s sovereignty over their own bodies. This would be comical if it were not so tragic. While those who would protect the status quo focus on the emotional issue of abortion, they refuse to effectively ameliorate the more pervasive crimes and trespasses against girls and women, most of which create the circumstances that force the tragic choice they would not allow.
That the abuses of girls and women in other cultures and countries are often far worse than the general condition in America does not excuse their social position and condition here.
- 41% of Latina students do not get a high school diploma in four years, if they graduate at all,
- More than half of girls in grades 7-12 reported being sexually harassed during 2010-2011 school year,
- One in 5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. More than half (54%) of all rapes of females happen before age 18. New York City, Atlanta and other US report a rise in the number of girls who become victims in the sex trade industry, and far from last,
- More than half of 3rd-5th grade girls worry about their appearance and 37% worry about their weight. Girls’ aspirations are limited as they view power, acceptance, and success with physical appearance rather than academic or extracurricular achievements.
So when you hear the claim that there is no “War on Women,” consider the source and dismiss it. We should fight that war by removing the barriers to girls’ and women’s full participation in society, “Because,” as the Day of the Girl moment says, “girls can save the world.”