Opinion: Women fight equally and should be paid equally as well

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The ability to fight on the front lines is instrumental in the history of women’s rights in America.

Last Thursday, the Pentagon approved a fundamental shift in the United States Military that now allows women to engage in active combat on the front line. Prior to this proclamation, women were not allowed into the brunt of fighting because they were deemed “not fit to carry out the necessary functions of battle.” This change represents a shifting philosophy in today’s society that is beginning to entrench women into everyday life more and more. Female soldiers are just as tough and wizened as males. And while it may be true that their bodies can not physically make as much muscle or carry as heavy a load, their fighting prowess can not be denied. In fact, it has been a shame and a waste so far that women have not been allowed to fight on the front line. The women who choose to enter military duty do so willingly and happily, with the goal of contributing to the greatest military on Earth. It is a waste of our personnel to limit them.

The current administration will undoubtedly receive flak for this decision, yet overall approval ratings should increase. By supporting this, President Obama is showing the nation that his support for fostering gender equality is genuine. This is just one example of the president’s support for gender equality, along with last year’s Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The next step in the battle for women’s rights is to address income disparities and identify where these come short. In equal jobs, there is no question that the pay should also be equal. This is especially prescient for the upcoming generation of young workers, as females are outnumbering males in current pre-professional majors in higher education. It should be relatively simple for Washington to mandate equal pay for equal work.

But where it gets tricky is with pregnancy and pregnancy leave. Men biologically do not have to deal with pregnancy, while women must if they want to have children. Because of this, women have an inherent setback in climbing the ranks of a professional job. It is economically inevitable that women will not be paid for their services during periods of maternity leave. It is also risky for companies to guarantee jobs for women once they return from leave. So how does one balance economic gain with equality? This is the question that the Obama administration must answer in the next four years to carry on Obama’s rhetoric of supporting women’s equality. Equality in the military is a good first step towards supporting this position, but much more remains to be done.