Our Essential Element

Since the beginning of time, women have been instrumental in further developing society. I can even go as far as to say that no one hasn’t had at least one woman who had impacted their life in a positive way. For me specifically, it would have to be my mother.

                                    Photo from Pixabay

She in her early twenties left everything she knew in the Dominican Republic to set out for a better life, not only for herself, but for her family in the future. During 2002, she was studying nursing in Hostos Community College while also being pregnant with her first child and working to provide for herself and her future daughter to come. Since I was born that year in August, my mother has never failed to put three meals on the table, provide me education and teach me  good morals while also giving emotional, mental, and physical support. She has left such a fathomless impact on my life that I could only hope to leave such a mark on someone else in the future.

But my story is just one of many others where we show gratitude to a powerful female figure in our lives. However, this question still remains: If women are so important, why do we have to work twice as hard to achieve the same rights enjoyed by men?

This is a question that has remained a part of the argument on women’s rights for centuries. It all began after the Civil War at a time where people sought to obtain justice for another oppressed group and women felt that the time had come for their freedoms under the Constitution to be reevaluated.

The Seneca Falls convention in 1848 became the catalyst for an unstoppable movement for women that have used their freedom and solidarity to demand what they feel they deserve. Advocates like Susan B. Anthony were instrumental in helping others understand that women shouldn’t be limited to being mothers and house workers. But rather, they can contribute to the work of becoming active citizens in society. Many other advocates that supported the movement had the same idea that women had the innate right to vote and should be equal to their male counterparts. Legislation just had to recognize this. It wasn’t until 1920 that the Constitution was finally altered to accommodate the rights of an essential group that used to be ignored.

But there is still some injustices that stand against women today. For example, in the United States, there is still a large pay gap between men and women in the United States. According to ABC News, women get paid 7 percent less than their male co workers and that does not include the stigma they receive in the workplace. If a woman goes to a job interview while she is either pregnant or engaged, she is less likely to receive the job due to the time off she will need in the future. It is still very much a man’s world being that only 3 countries have more female bosses than male ones, as mentioned in a study presented by Marie Claire. But the question is why? Why should women have to undergo such hardship to be viewed as an equal?

Women aren’t just mothers and caretakers and they shouldn’t be forced into that mold. It should be accepted worldwide that women have the ability to equally perform as well as men and that we should have that support whether it be from our husbands, fathers or male co-workers. There should be no stigma that girls are weaker, more fragile or incapable of stepping up in positions of power. We shouldn’t have to fight and create movements to eventually get the rights we are entitled to to begin with. As stated in WYA’s Declaration on Women, “Woman recalls to humankind its humanity in a profound recognition of the dignity of each person. Woman is the architect of authentic peace from the most basic cell of society to the highest levels of policy and decision making, constructing conditions in which persons are given the chance to live in accordance with their dignity.

The talents of woman foster and preserve the beauty of each culture. When woman exercises a key role in building, designing and protecting societies, her participation enriches and sustains the culture for herself, her family and community and for all generations to follow.”

Women are so important in that we can carry and nurture children while also pushing to thrive in all the things life throws at us. It is time to bring the conversation on the recognition of women’s rights to our State leaders so that women can truly live out their potential.

Written by Genesis Abreu, a current intern from the WYA Headquarters in New York.