Happy International Women's Day!
This auspicious holiday originated back in 1908, when a group of about 15,000 women marched through the streets of Manhattan and demanded voting rights, shorter working hours, and improved pay.
Clara Zetkin was the leader of the women's office of the Social Democratic Party in Germany in 1910. She identified the need for an international group to lobby for women's rights and organized a conference that was attended by more than 100 women from 17 different countries. They unanimously voted in favor of establishing an International Women's Day to help close the gender gap. In 1913 the holiday was officially assigned the date of March 8th, and was eventually recognized by the United Nations in 1975. This year marks the 105th anniversary of the original celebration.
How ironic it is that today, in the year 2016, women have still not been granted full gender equality whether the issue is equal pay, education, representation in business, government, politics, or matters of health. Women are without a doubt the glue that holds our societies together across every continent. What can be of greater importance or more honorable than being entrusted with the birth and nurturing of future generations to inherit the earth? And yet...
There are just slightly more men than women in the world, with women currently constituting about 49.6% of the world population. Females tend to live longer than males and these days outnumber them 3:2 with regard to the numbers of graduates from U.S. colleges. If you've ever wondered where you got your "smarts", you'll be interested to know that studies done back in 2013 showed that approximately 80% of a male child's intelligence actually comes from the mother. This is because several of the genes that determine intelligence are located on the X chromosome, the one that is inherited from the female. In males, this is then paired with the smaller Y chromosome that is inherited from the father. (In comparison, females inherit x chromosomes from both parents). Can anyone doubt the contribution of females to the intellligence pool of the world's population?
And yet, we continue to earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. Women constitute only 14% of Fortune 500 boardroom positions, and face serious obstacles to career development once they have children, due to the lack of affordable childcare and a twisted perception that they are somehow inferior to men for taking time off to bring the next generation into the world. With more and more women becoming heads of their own households and small business owners, the current status quo is slowly but surely changing. Women have certainly come a long way, but we still have a very long way to go to even the playing field.
All you need to do is read the daily news to see proof of this. Many world countries are still male-dominant (Saudi Arabia just granted women the right to drive a car!). The horrors of international sex-slave trading, ageism and blatant sexism in the work place disproportionately affect females and - I'm sorry to say - exist all over the globe, not just in 3rd world countries. The time has come to make gender equity everybody's responsibility.
So what can you do to help further gender equality and improve the future for ourselves, our daughters and our granddaughters?
1. Check out the IWD website at http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Pledge and join other people all over the world in making a pledge for parity.
2. Check out the list of events celebrating IWD. Join a discussion panel, or create your own local event to raise consciousness. March is Women's History Month and the perfect time to organize a gathering of like-minded people to highlight the struggle.
3. Create a dialogue among your friends and family. Teach your children - both male and female - the importance of respecting all gender rights and embracing equality towards all.
Given the current state of world affairs, can anyone doubt the importance of harnessing every bit of talent on the planet to ensure a better future for everyone? Can we really afford to dismiss the God-given gifts of almost 50% of the world's population?
Think about it, and then do the right thing. Remember: gender equality is not a women's issue. It is a human issue. The time has come to join the movement for gender equality. All of our futures depend upon it.
Wishing you the blessings of good health and timeless beauty,
Sharon Gnatt Epel
La Ishá Natural Skin Care & Aromatherapy Essentials