I recently had the opportunity to spend two days at the UN participating in The Gender Equality Conference and The Catherine Flon Symposium, both dedicated to advancing women’s rights around the world. This has been a cause close to my heart ever since my husband and I started the Michael Stars Foundation over 10 years ago.
It was exciting to be among so many people just as dedicated to developing solutions here in the U.S. and internationally. I want to share with you examples of real progress taking place, and outline a few ways we can all take action on this critical issue which sadly still deserves our attention.
But first, here are a few statistics to set the stage for how much work still needs to be done:
- Women with full-time jobs still earn on average 79 cents on every dollar compared to their white male counterparts. This number goes down to 63 cents for African American women and 54 cents for Hispanic women.
- Around the world, only 22% of all national parliamentarians are female. In the U.S., women represent just 17% of public officials.
- Women around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, war, and malaria.
As scary as those facts are, we have a path forward thanks to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG #5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Here are two examples of work presented at the UN which are actively helping us accomplish SDG #5.
Fact: When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup in 2015, they made only $2 million dollars in prize money compared to the Men’s German team who netted $35 million. Amy Wambach, the two-time Olympic Gold medalist, spoke about her fight to achieve equal pay and how this issue transcends not just sports, but business and politics as well.
Progress: In response to these figures, five of the biggest names in U.S. women’s soccer filed a complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, demanding equal pay for equal work and calling for an investigation of what they believe to be discriminatory wage practices. Go U.S. women! You can learn more about their fight here.
Bringing Men into the Conversation:
Fact: Here in the U.S., one in four women are the victims of domestic violence, and over 50% of middle and high-school girls experience sexual harassment in school. Even worse, many of these victims know their male perpetrators. Thanks to Ted Bunch and Tony Porter, co-founders of A Call to Men, men are being encouraged to break out of the ‘man box’ and challenge our society’s definition of masculinity.
Progress: Over the last 10 years, A Call to Men has reached over 100,000 people around the world, including young men, professional athletes, and the military. Thanks to Ted and Tony, we are moving closer to a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful, and all women and girls are valued and safe. Learn more at www.acalltomen.org.
As we aim to reach the goal of gender equality by 2030, here are a few simple steps you can take:
- Get educated on the state of gender inequality in the world. Sites like Huffington Post Women, The Guardian’s Women’s Rights & Gender Equality section, Makers, and Women@Forbes are great places to start.
- Find out who your local government officials are and learn what gender equality issues are on their agenda. Get involved by calling or emailing them. Your voice counts!
- Share what you learn with your friends and family online using #planet5050.
You don’t need to wait to be invited to the UN to make a difference. The small steps we take now CAN and WILL help us achieve gender equality.