A while ago a woman asked me if I thought we should still celebrate Women's Day. She was raised in and lives in a society where men and women are fairly equal in their rights and roles and perhaps for her a day dedicated to women is a bit of an anachronism.
But what about the women in the rest of the world? Is Women's Day obsolete? Have we finally achieved the equality that we have been fighting for over decades, or rather centuries? I took a look at statistics from around the world.
The statistics for violence again women in general are frightening. According to estimates, 58% of the 87,000 women killed in 2017 were murdered by a family member. Women and girls comprise 72% of all human trafficking victims. Approximately 15 million adolescent girls have experience forced sex at some point in the lives. One in 10 women in the European Union reported to have experienced cyber harassment since the age of 15.
Horrified, I decided to look at the progress women have made in education and in the workforce. It turns out that women in the U.S. are more educated than men, with more bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees than men. However, they are still earning 80% of what men are earning in the U.S. Women make up 19% of Congress and 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs. And because girls and women have made gains in education all over the world, both maternal and child health is on the rise. However, women are not joining the workforce at the rate they should be doing.
I looked to Scandinavia, hoping to find in these progressive countries a glimpse of a better world for women. True enough, 48% of the workforce in Sweden and Norway are women, while in Denmark and Iceland the rate is 47% and 47.4% respectively. But, when these women got back home from a day equally hectic to what their male counterparts had gone through, they are expected to do the housework. 74% of women in Sweden do housework or cook for an hour every day compared to 56% of men.
Virginia Slims told us in the 1980's that we've come a long way, baby, and Maybelline tells us that we can afford their mascara because we're worth it. But have we? Are we? We may have come a bit of a way, but we have a very long way to go. And while we are on that road, walking endlessly, it is absolutely vital to take one day out of the year and celebrate all that we have achieved and fight for all that we still need to fight for.