Every time a "day" of awareness come up, some naysayer will find a reason to take issue with it. For example, recently I heard someone complain that if we were going to have an International Women's Day, then we should have a similar "Men's Day."
But here's the thing: recognizing the needs of one group, whether it is through today's International Women's Day, or a day like National Coming Out Day, and raising awareness about that group's issues, doesn't take away from anyone else!
And really some groups, need specific attention to right wrongs, bring attention to injustices and simply increase knowledge about certain issues.
So regards to girls and women, what are some of these issues? Here are just a few:
- A woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health is under attack in ways not seen since the fights to decriminalize birth control in the 1930s and to legalize abortion in the 1970s.
- The Guttmacher Institute reports that over 90% of American counties currently have no abortion provider.
- In a survey conducted by the National Association of University Women, 80% of high school girls reported being the victims of sexual harassment at school.
- America is one of only four counties in the world that offers no paid maternity leave. The others are Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.
- Our rates of maternal and child health and mortality are worse than they were thirty years ago.
- A study of high school and college women out of San Diego State University found stress levels six times greater than those reported during the Great Depression.
But it's not all gloom and doom! Things have definitely improved on a lot of fronts.
Since 1996, colleges have been granting more undergraduate degrees to women than to men, and as of 2010, the same can be said of graduate degrees.
Plus, we now live in a world where a teen lesbian may come out to her peers by changing her Facebook status and then can expect to grow up, have a family, and in more and more places, even get married. That's a big change from even the recent past, when Bill Clinton's endorsement of the military's, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy actually passed for progressive politics.
Days like today are a good time to take stock of what needs to be done, and also to remember how far we've come!
Image (c) bbheart