Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Well Done Sister Suffragette!

The other day, while watching television, I happened to come across a viewing of Mary Poppins. As I delighted in a viewing of the film, I began to think as one of the songs began to take shape in the next scene. "Sister Suffragette" is pro-suffrage protest song pastiche in which Mrs. Banks protests the inability for women to vote and the equality they face. She later mentions ""Our daughters' daughters will adore us and they'll sing in grateful chorus, well done Sister Suffragette!".

Years later, while many women partake in their rights, I don't think that we, as a group, fully understand the power which has been given to us. After watching, I was deeply embarrassed at how many women were easily giving up their right to vote without even questioning. But it made me consider the people who went through such great trials in order to get us where we are today. Since the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, women have been making great strides for history by performing acts such as voting, holding offices, becoming CEOs of a company and many more.

Even then, we still face many barriers and our struggle for equal rights is far from over. In the public sphere, American women hold only 16 percent of the seats in the current Congress. Sweden, by contrast, uses an electoral gender quota system and is among the world leaders, with women holding 47.3 percent of its parliamentary seats, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Globally, 97 countries have some type of electoral gender quota and some believe we should look to this as an example of how the United States could increase specific gender parties within our government.

In the workplace, women are making some gains in pay, but, overall, they still face a significant wage disparity. Nationally, women who work full time still earn 76.5 cents for every dollar men do, according to 2004 Census data. Over time, those pennies add up to a pricey disadvantage for women. The AFL-CIO figures that the average 25-year-old woman will lose roughly $455,000 to unequal pay during her working life.

Another area of concern for women is upholding equal rights, is the issue of personal health. Some believe that to uphold equal rights, they must protect women's access to all forms of birth control, for example. Even though the Food and Drug Administration last year approved the over-the-counter sale of some birth controls, for women 18 and over, they have still faced obstacles in obtaining the medication. Only 14 states require hospitals to provide women--including possible rape victims--with information about its availability. In 2006, 18 states considered legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions.

These obstacles, while challenging, have not been the end for the progress that has come throughout time. For example: In Arizona, a working woman earned 83.8 percent of a man's annual salary in 2005, well above the national average, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Arizona's male-female salary gap was the second-smallest. Only the gap in the District of Columbia was smaller.. "The fact that Arizona is up there near 84 percent really is outstanding compared to the nation," said Avis Jones-DeWeever, program director for the institute. The pay gap might be closing for Arizona's women, but, as Jones-DeWeever points out, it's probably not for the reason women want to hear. Men in the state are earning less than the national average, while Arizona's women are on par with it.

As the years go on, our generation is becoming more and more open to the thought of women taking roles of responsibility and power. We still have a ways to go, but the progress is growing stronger every day. I hope that within my lifetime I and my children will be able to have this kind of perfect equality that many still strive for. We will be truly thankful and say "Well done Sister Suffragette!"

Works Cited: p:// Jane Austen

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