This Is Why International Women’s Day Still Matters In 2016

Why International Women's Day Matters in 2016Wouldn’t it be great if a day such as this was no longer needed?

What if we lived in a world of gender parity, not only in this country, but around the world?

The theme of today’s International Women’s Day is gender equality.  Ah, just imagine if that were already the case!

Some of us grew up in a time when women’s issues, women’s rights weren’t really a topic of discussion.  Females supported males, and that was pretty much the end of the story.

Until, well, the late ‘60s and ‘70s came and with it, we changed the course of women’s lives in our culture.

But many younger women haven’t experienced sexism in the manner we did (thank goodness!). What’s the problem, they ask?

Let’s take a closer look.

Did you know that working women in 2014 made 79 cents to a man’s dollar?  Or that the pay gap has hardly changed in a decade?  At this rate, that gap won’t be bridged for 100 years.

Moreover, the pay gap is worse for women of color.  It’s worse for mothers (and only grows with age).  Some states are worse than others, but women in every state experience this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this gap spans almost all occupations.

And think about it—we women have it far better in this country than across much of the world.  Especially in Muslim countries, a woman’s rights’ focus is on far different things . . .

I’ve often used the wonderful example of Malala Yousafzai in this blog—the young Pakistani girl who when the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools, stood up to them.  And the Taliban shot her.  But she lived, and now, stronger than ever, continues through her foundation to help educate girls.

But she is by far not alone.

Raheel Raza, the president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, also came from Pakistan.  As a young girl, she began writing because of course she grew up in a culture where girls were supposed to be seen and not heard.

This grew into a long and successful career as a freelance journalist, and she recently worked with eight other women’s rights activists through the Clarion Project on its latest film, Honor Diaries, which tackles honor-based violence.

We know about those, right?  How a Middle-Eastern woman can (and often is) stoned to death for being raped?  For adultery? While the males perpetuating the criminal rape or part of the adulterous couple aren’t even questioned . . .

Those are the more extremes, but as Raza says, girls are often horrifically punished for glancing at a boy . . .

And here’s the secret: This doesn’t just occur in the huts of far-removed Middle-Eastern villages.  According to Raza’s research, it occurs right here in the USA.

In fact, Newsweek reported that genital mutilation has been perpetrated on girls in this country, and we’ve known about it, for a very long time. The fact of the matter is that the number of women and girls at risk for this, here, in the USA, has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

Didn’t you just gulp?

Raza’s powerful book, Their Jihad, not my Jihad, is a collection of newspaper columns on the themes of political jihad, women’s rights, and the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism—all over the world.  Now living in Canada (bet we can figure out why!), she was the first Muslim-Canadian to lead mixed-gender prayer services.

She’s also hilariously funny.  Incredibly well spoken.  And as courageous a woman as I’ve seen, unafraid to take on, well, just about anybody.

But what’s the point of this for you?  What can you do about any of it?

Making a difference is easier than you think.

Participate in International Women’s Day, even if just online.  Comment, share, listen to the speeches, all of which will have calls to action.

Support the causes of women such as Malala and Raza.  With just a few dollars, or active participation.

Make sure your daughters and nieces and granddaughters all know what it’s like to be female in other countries.  AND, that women in this country still only make 79 cents to the man’s dollar.  Whenever I talk with a young girl about that, her eyes always spring wide.

Vote.  My goodness alive, a woman is about to be the Democratic Nominee for Present of the United States!

And NO!  I’m not telling you who to vote for.  I’m mentioning it because even though we’ve come a long way, we still have a long, long way to go.

My point is to exercise your privilege to vote—and it is a privilege, from which women worked long and hard in the last century, to put into our hands.

Vote for the candidates of your choice, absolutely. And while you’re at it, see which ones fight for the rights of women . . .

In essence, our rights are all up to us.  It constantly amazes me that now we’re the adults in the room!  But, we are.  It’s time to make a difference. We are it.

So go out and take an action.  Go out and do it!

I’d love to know your thoughts, and how things go!

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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38 comments
Sheila Bliss says March 8, 2016

Thank you, Susan for sharing this information! This is your most powerful post! Thank you!

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Valerie Robinson says March 8, 2016

This is a great post! Imagine if we all stuck together and supported one another- mountains moved!

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Roslyn Tanner Evans says March 8, 2016

I thought all I had to do today was post a great graphic, tweet about it, like & comment on others posts about International Women’s Day. Then I just happen to stumble across your blog in my FB feed, read it & realize I didn’t know some of the statistics or even facts you cited. Now I do & my heart aches with pain for women treated inhumanly, mutilated, violated, taken advantage of.
I will vote, of that, there is no question. What else other than share & keep sharing your words? Will be open to more.

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Dorothy says March 8, 2016

Great post! You are absolutely right. There is much, much more progress to be made! A second the “VOTE” motion. We have more power there than we’ve exercised. Aren’t we still more than 50% of the population?

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    Susan Malone says March 8, 2016

    Yes, ma’am, we are, Dorothy! Maybe time we start acting like it? 🙂

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GiGi Eats says March 8, 2016

Still??? It should ALWAYS matter – ALWAYS! Women are JUST AS important as men, if not MORE SO! ha ha!

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Miranda says March 8, 2016

This is a really great post! I love that you are encouraging women to vote. I get so disheartened when I see people on FB saying that they aren’t going to vote because it won’t matter anyway. If everyone who thought that just went out and voted, it would matter! Especially women who had to go through so much not too long ago in history for that right.

And as for the women’s rights in other countries–so sad. I watched a foreign film about 5 years ago called “The stoning of Soraya”. It was completely in another language and set in the middle east and had english subtitles, but it really opened my eyes to the injustices that women face around the world. In this movie, her husband wanted to divorce her, so found a man who would say she had committed adultery with him. The man didn’t get punished, but Soraya got stoned to death, and so many other horrible things happened. Just so her husband could marry another woman. It was horrible and I was ugly crying and it left a lasting impression. Definitely not a kids movie but worth watching if you are an adult.

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    That sounds like a real eye-opening film, Miranda. And sadly, it’s not an uncommon story. It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around, no? But as Raza said, even young girls are punished horribly, for infractions as simple as glancing at a boy . . .
    You keep beating that drum for women to go vote! You’re absolutely right–if everyone went out and voted, it would make a difference! It’s our privilege as well as our right.
    Whatever your leanings, whomever you support, go vote!

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Leslie says March 8, 2016

Happy international woman’s day!

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Melissa Bernardo says March 9, 2016

Thank you for sharing this information! Great post!

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Sabrina Quairoli says March 9, 2016

So sad. Thanks for sharing these important facts. My daughter is so into equal rights already and she is only 14, our conversations are always about this topic.

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    I love your daughter already, Sabrina! And kudos to you being a great mom!

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Karen says March 9, 2016

I want all women to be treated fair and with dignity. I am not looking to be equal to a man. I feel strongly about how poorly women are treated in other countries especially muslin countries. Please do not vote for a women just because she is a women just as don’t vote for someone because he/she is black or hispanic or anything else. Vote for the character and policies of a person. We get what we vote for.

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    Exactly, Karen! Don’t vote for gender or race. Delve deeply into the issues, and vote for the candidate who best reflects your views. Just vote!

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Beth Niebuhr says March 9, 2016

I had thought about writing a post about International Women’s Day and then I saw that you were planning one and I knew it would be really good and decided to write about something else! I appreciate your thoughtful article and will tell people about it because parts of it will surprise them. I am amazed that genital mutilation is happening in our country and in fact is growing. That is shocking.

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    You humble me, Beth 🙂
    But isn’t the part about genital mutilation in this country shocking? I mean, how on earth can this even be . . .

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Teresa says March 9, 2016

This is a very dear subject to me and I also hosted an awareness call in light of Intl Women’s Day as a celebration. And although I am aware of most of these devastating conditions. I was not aware of the growth of FGM in US – but it makes sense how has come about. My heart is cracking open and I’m sobbing as I write this..it is so inhumane the things that are happening. I do support many Intl Women’s organizations and have recently found one in my city that helps refugees. I am planning to go to one of their meetings and perhaps this too can be an topic to discuss.

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    Bless you, Teresa, for hosting the call, and for finding the international women’s organization to become a part of. PLEASE let us know how that goes! I think everyone of us here would like to get more deeply involved.

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Jackie Harder says March 9, 2016

Love this, Susan. Yes, I’m a feminist and have been since the 1970s. And young women who think discrimination and gender inequality are things of the past, consider these two points: An obituary on author Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” made a special note that her mother was obese. On the same day, author Umberto Eco’s obit noted that he was “heavy-set.” Seriously? Point 2: A husband and wife are noted as being the first such team to be in Parliament at the same time. The subhead on the story says the wife is noted for her “grace and charm.” Grace and charm? For God’s sake, she’s an elected member of Parliament, not a charm-school grad. This is 2016, not 1970. It makes me mad all over again just writing about it!

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    Susan Malone says March 9, 2016

    I hear you, Jackie. It really makes us nuts, no? We often hear about what women pubic figures are wearing. If a woman is smart and strong, I still hear her referred to as “aggressive,” and not in a good way. And the old “grace and charm.” Kinda makes you want to go smack somebody, no?

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Joan M Harrington says March 9, 2016

Hi Susan,
Really enjoyed your post! Yes IT DOES MATTER! We as women really need to stand up for what we believe in and use our right to vote and be heard!

Just amazes me how many women in other countries have it so difficult….makes me sad. And of course, we have a woman in the run for president, well, I do not think our country is ready for that and yes, we have come a long way but we still have a very LONG way to go!

Thanks for sharing for share a thought-provoking post!

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    Susan Malone says March 10, 2016

    You are so right, Joan–this DOES matter! And yes, we have a long way to go here. Thank you for your thoughts!

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Joyce Hansen says March 9, 2016

Thank you for posting Susan. It’s hard to fathom the progress that was made here and see how there is such knee-jerk reaction to erode those rights. What I find most disturbing is how the social culture of young pre-teens and teens perpetuates the character assassination of young girls. The battle for the dignity of women is still on-going, and it’s out duty to see it through.

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    Susan Malone says March 10, 2016

    So true, Joyce. Amazing how young girls are still so under fire–here! I love how you put it–character assassination. Here we are, in 2016, and that’s still happening. Boggles the mind.

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Beverley Golden says March 10, 2016

Loved this post, Susan! As you know I write about this topic as well and although not a U.S. citizen I am watching very closely the race for the party nominations happening right now in the U.S. Personally I see that Bernie Sanders stands for all issues that have to do with “rights”. Human rights. Women’s rights. Environmental rights. He is a true feminist in his understanding of all the values that matter to our humanity. This year’s Oscars were a perfect platform for all of these issues right now and the rose-colored glass optimist that I am, sees that things are shifting and changing because of the awareness that continues to keep this conversation current and top of mind. Thanks for writing about it and sharing some startling statistics. I could go on and on about the “conditioning” that men learn from birth in certain cultures and it is shocking to imagine that with all the progress we have made…we still have a long way to go! And YES, International Women’s Day should become part of our consciousness every day.

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    Susan Malone says March 11, 2016

    Great points, Beverley. And you’re so right about the conditioning men learn from birth–in our culture as well! We do have a long way to go. And women like you are leading the charge!

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Rachel Lavern says March 10, 2016

And so it goes. Hard to believe we are doing our best to get rid of the practices that create gender inequality. If we were, why isn’t there equality by now?

Good post Susan!

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    Susan Malone says March 11, 2016

    Exactly, Rachel! And you know, folks can argue about many gender-inequality points. But the numbers don’t lie . . .

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Staci Witten says March 11, 2016

Wow! Great reminder. Thank you so much for this post! It is a great reminder that we should not take our freedoms and blessings for granted. So much to celebrate, but still much to do.

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Joan Potter says March 14, 2016

Susan – Thank you for your post. I so admire people who are willing to talk about this. I’m seriously glad that you did not feel the dour subject matters (genital mutilation, wage inequity, etc.) were too sobering. I’m a big girl, and I’m wildly interested in this sort of thing, and I admire anyone who’s willing to stand up and say, “okay, let’s talk about the uncomfortable.” I like that you encourage us to do what we can – repost this article, VOTE, create awareness. I’ve never felt that voting was a waste of time. Just the opposite – it’s very empowering.

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    Susan Malone says March 16, 2016

    These are tough topics to talk about, Joan. But we have to, no? That any of this still is still happening boggles the mind . . .

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