Note: The following was written as a letter to students, and they were assigned to write a response essay to agree, disagree, or qualify the positions presented in this position paper.
On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, I will be in Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, to participate in the Women’s March. Their mission is to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights”. The March follows the nonviolent principles of Dr. King. The Women’s March is inclusive and allows anyone who believes that women’s rights are human rights to participate.
As stated above, the Women’s March’s key message is that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. The history of our country and of human civilizations around the world has been tragically fraught with discrimination, oppression, and violent abuse of women in every imaginable way. When one person is mistreated or disrespected, that lowers the respect for all people, because if someone else can be devalued and hurt, the same can be done to you. Women make up over half of the human population on the planet, so the mistreatment of women is the mistreatment of half the human population, and since women’s rights are human rights, it opens up the doors to the mistreatment and devaluing of all people. We have to treat others the way we want to be treated, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the way we treat others paves the way for how we can and will be treated. If we don’t stand up for equal rights and respect for everyone, then, male or female, we all lose. So the Women’s March is a march for the rights of everyone, girls and boys, women and men.
We live here in the United States of America, which is the most powerful nation in the world. According to the 2016 U.S. News rankings of countries, the U.S. “has the world’s largest economy and biggest military budget, spending more than $600 billion on military hardware and personnel in 2014”. It is also ranked as the most influential country and has even won the most medals in the recent 2016 Olympics. Though not always ranked first in every positive category, these statistics alone show that the country is a force to be reckoned with on the global scale.
Given the role of the United States as a world leader, the way women are treated in this country sets an example for the rest of the world. Unfortunately, even though we claim to be a land of freedom, when it comes to the treatment of women, the U.S. still falls terribly short. In a 2015 visit by the United Nations to examine the state of women’s rights in the U.S., they found that here, “women fall behind international standards as regard their public and political representation, their economic and social rights and their health and safety protections”. First of all, there is a well documented gap in pay between the genders, in which women earn less than men for the same level of work and at every pay scale level. Further, the UN found that in terms of women in our government, the U.S. was in 72nd place in global rankings. That means 71 other countries in the world have more women in government than we do. In terms of women’s participation in government, we can’t proudly exclaim “We’re #1!”, we can only whimper “We’re #72”. In 1920, women finally won the right to vote. The year 2020 will be the centennial, the 100 year anniversary of the American woman’s right to vote. Yet in that 100 years of women voting, an entire century, exactly 0% of the Presidents of the United States have been women. A total of 59 other countries have had women leaders, and since we’ve never had a woman president, we do not even get a rank on that scale. For the highest leadership position in our country, we get an “F-” for women’s rights which translates to a complete failure in human rights. We are not being a very good role model for the world. These are just a few of many examples of gender inequality in this country.
If we can’t protect women’s rights here in the United States, then as a world leader, we are leading everyone away from a better world. If a woman can’t be respected here in the United States, then that sets the stage for disrespect of women everywhere. Since women’s rights are human rights, we are devaluing every person on this planet.
The day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, after we have officially sworn in to the White House and Congress a majority of representatives who have a hostile agenda against women and against every single discriminated group in America and in the World, I will be marching for women’s rights, which means I will be marching for human rights. In marching for human rights, I’m marching for your rights, I’m marching for your future, I am marching for you. `