Gender Equality Essay

Submitted By clairestevenson012
Words: 939
Pages: 4

Gender Equality in the United States

In the United States of America, we are lagging behind on gender equality. According to CNN Money (World Economic Forum), the U.S. has a larger gender gap than 22 countries including Germany, Ireland, Nicaragua and Cuba. This report rates 136 countries on economic opportunity, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. Iceland has the narrowest gender gap—with Norway, Sweden, and Finland close behind. The U.S. struggles to maintain equality among men and women in terms of political empowerment. Not only has the U.S. never had a female President, women still make up far less than half of congress. This year, women hold 98 out of 535 seats in Congress. That’s just eighteen percent. Despite the successes of the women’s movement over the last 40 years, significant barriers to full equality and inclusion remain. I think there needs to be critical policy changes that can help women overcome challenges in the areas of economic justice and safety. As for the more marginalized groups (people of color and immigrants), the issues most related to their well-being are not often reflected in our national policy agenda. According to some reports, women are marginalized in the economy. They are consistently put in the lowest paying sectors, which are further stratified by race. Control over women’s bodies and access to healthcare, particularly for women of color and low-income, is being legislated primarily by men. Furthermore, violence still tops the list of concerns for women at every age. Economically, women fall behind men significantly. Over a lifetime of work, the average woman makes about $380,000 less than the average working man. Women’s wages have stagnated at around 80% of men’s. Women are also overrepresented in minimum wage jobs—at 63%. President Obama has signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is a small step toward reducing wage discrimination. Additionally, the poverty rate among older unmarried women is very high. For all elderly women, the poverty rate is 11.5%. In 2010, the poverty rate was 17% for women over the age of 65 who lived alone (The Road to Equality). Older men fare better, drawing in more social security payments and pension. In relation, of those individuals who are still working, older man out-earn older women almost two to one ($20,000 for men and $11,297 for women). Because care giving and household duties still fall disproportionately on women, the persistent lack of workplace flexibility or work support (child care, paid sick leave, and family medical leave) affects women at every level of the economy. I think this lack is largely responsible for the continued wage and gender gap. Childcare has become increasingly expensive and work schedules are less flexible. In the U.S., ninety percent of childcare costs are assumed by the parents. In 2010, average child care fees for an infant exceeded the average amount families spent on food, and in nearly half the states, exceeded the average amount for rent. There is an overwhelming need for childcare in the U.S. and it remains unmet. It is seen as the personal responsibility for families—especially mothers. Quality childcare is important for all children and can contribute to healthier futures. And because child care typically falls on women, women earn less than they should (less than men). I believe that public funding for childcare and early education should be increased, companies should be encouraged to allow flexible scheduling, federal minimum wage should be raised, women’s access to non-traditional jobs should be improved, strong pay-equity should be advocated, and public assistance programs need to ensure a transition into a real job. Gender-based violence remains a