Guest Illustrator: Soraiya Myers
Little girls all around the world are told that they can do anything they set their mind to—that their opportunities are endless, and that they have just as much brains, will, and power as any man. But in today’s culture, is this even a possibility? Will women ever get the same pay as men? Will there ever be a female president? Will women ever be treated and regarded in the same way that men are?
It is almost impossible to complete something that has still never been done, and there are still so many things that women have still not been able to achieve. A woman has never been the vice president of the United States, the head coach of a major sports team, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Director of the FBI, or the Senate Majority Leader. Nor has one been the senator or governor of 20 U.S. states, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, or Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The list goes on: a woman has never been the CEO of the UN secretary-general. And as for the position with the most recognition and significance, a woman has never been the President of the United States. The president is someone who represents the country and shows others who we are, but the fact that over 50% of the population has never been represented is disheartening.
At the current rate of progress, it will take another 108 years to reach gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap report. Across the 106 countries covered since the first edition of the report, the biggest gaps to close are in the economic and political empowerment divisions, which will take 202 and 107 years to close, respectively.
Based on this research it is a lie to tell little girls that they will be able to achieve equality during their lifetime. As sad as it is to hear, it is true. But what should people tell little girls and young women? That their hopes and goals are impossible, and they will never be at the same equality as men?
No. It may be impossible for an entire society and culture to change overnight. But it is possible for women to do the impossible, as an individual. Throughout history there have been so many women who have had drastic impacts on the view that society has on women.
For example, Murasaki Shikibu was a woman who lived around 1000 AD and was the first woman novelist. She wrote a two-part novel called “The Tale of Genji,” which tells a riches-to-rags story about the son of a Japanese emperor forced to live life as a commoner.
Lucy Stone was born in 1818. She was the first woman to ever keep her last name, instead of taking her husband’s.
Alice Coachman was born in 1923 and grew up in Georgia. She was the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold. The segregation in the United States prevented her from joining sports teams, so she trained on her own. She competed in the 1948 Games in London, where she not only won a gold medal but set a record in the high jump.
It may not be possible for the world to become completely equal any time soon. But it is very possible for each one of us to strive and work for what we hope the future can be. As much as the statistics might be against the idea, it is possible for the individual to do the impossible.