Progress in women’s rights around the world still needs to be made

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

Although women’s rights have come a long way in the last 100 years, we still have a long way to go.

Most men and women in America wake up, drink their coffee, kiss their spouses and children and head off to their respective careers or responsibilities. Women are able to drive to their jobs, their children’s schools or the grocery store on their own, and they certainly don’t have to ask a man for permission to leave their home.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, women were only just granted the right to drive on their own on Sept. 27. This will take effect beginning in June 2018. This, however, is not the biggest concern for Saudi women, as they are still unable to leave the house without the approval of a male relative and unable to work in the same room as a man.

Unfortunately, a lack of basic rights for women is not uncommon in other countries as well. While American women are still fighting for equal pay, there are other women who are only recognized as “half a witness” in countries such as Yemen.

Seventy years of American women’s cries to be included were answered when they were awarded the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. In Vatican City, however, women still do not have the right to do so. Women in other countries need our help in advocating for their rights, because in cases such as Vatican City, they don’t even have the chance to voice their own opinions through voting.

Even more troubling is that in places such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco, women are punished for being raped, under the notion that since they were out of the house without a man’s permission, they are responsible for whatever happened to them. When American women are raped, sometimes the question is “How much did she have to drink?” or “What was she wearing?” When Saudi Arabian women are raped, the question is, “Why were they disobeying their husbands and relatives in the first place?” Women should not be held accountable, and certainly should not be disciplined, for the choices of their assaulters, period. The world seems to think blaming the victims of these crimes is OK, but in places such as Morocco, this blame is equated to the women’s lack of rights, which can and should be righted.

Although American women continue to fight for true equality, women in other countries are fighting for rights that we do not think twice of. These include rights such as driving or even leaving home, that we think of as normal, every day activities.

The “I Need Feminism” project consists of photographs of women holding up signs that promote women’s rights. These signs say things such as “I need feminism because I’m tired of being called ‘one of the guys’ because I’m not a flirt,” or “I need feminism because my mom’s boyfriend said ‘Guys don’t like it when you don’t shave.'” While these signs have the right idea, the issues they discuss pale in comparison to some of the basic rights women in other countries lack.

The women that participate in this feminism project could do far more for women of the world by using their freedom of speech to speak on rights that women in places such as Saudi Arabia cannot. Instead of focusing on what a man did or didn’t say to you, what about holding up a sign that says “I need feminism because in Nigeria, violence “by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife” is legal.”

While this project is just one example, countries all over the world all still have progress to make in women’s rights. This is not an American issue or a Saudi Arabian issue –– this is a global issue.