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Women's Equality Day: August 26

U.S. Women rally for voting rights on a suffrage hay wagon, circa 1910-1915. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress via Flickr.


Governments, nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals acknowledge the critical importance of gender equality for the advancement of society. According to the National Council of Research on Women (NCRW), global, national and local evidence reflect that “women are losing ground” (Gains and Gaps: A Look at the World’s Women, New York, 2005, p. 3).
Globalization has compressed physical distances and has increased our knowledge of day-to-day lives of women around the globe. Gender inequalities in education, economic status, political participation, peace building, health and employment have been exacerbated by restrictive social structures.
Moreover, NCRW has noted that “especially devastating [is] the epidemic of violence that continues to plague the world—an effect of wars, global crime, trafficking networks, and widening economic disparities that for many women and girls [make] basic physical security beyond reach” (p. 3). Technology and environmental degradation, such as floods in Pakistan, lack of Internet access, mudslides in China and hurricanes in New Orleans, have further strained women’s unequal status.
FACT: The United States ranked 28 out of 43 in developed nations in terms of conditions for mothers and children. Norway ranked first.
FACT: According to some estimates, women represent 70% of the world’s poor, and the average global wage gap between men and women is 17%.
FACT: According to the U.S. Department of State, women comprise at least 56% of the world’s trafficking victims (Trafficking in Persons Report, 2010).
FACT: Eight out of 10 women works in “vulnerable employment” in South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa.
FACT: Women comprise only 17% of the 111th session of the U.S. Congress, with 76 women in the House and 17 in the Senate. The United States ranks 84 out of 186 parliaments measured by the percentage of women represented in national decision-making. Rwanda ranked number one.
FACT: According to the NCRW, in the United States, 30% of women compared with 47% of men have private pensions.
FACT: According to the NCRW, worldwide, women own 1% of all assets.
FACT: According to the NCRW, in the United States, three-fourths of the women in the criminal justice system are Black or Latina.
FACT: In sub-Saharan Africa, 57% of all HIV positive adults are women, and 75% of young people living with HIV are women and girls.
FACT: One billion people, mostly women and girls, lack access to safe drinking water. Training in water management is dominated by men.
FACT: Girls make up more than 50% of the 75 million children currently denied access to primary education, and women are the vast majority of the 776 million illiterate worldwide.
While the nature of women’s equality may differ by geographic location, we must act so that women and girls everywhere can freely live to their fullest potential.
For this reason in 1983, the Women’s Division approved a policy statement recognizing the Equal Rights of Women. The statement notes, in part, “our traditional concern for justice, human dignity and equality of all persons” and calls on us to “research laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of gender and to advocate changes that enable equality of rights and opportunities.”
ACTION: What will you do to bring about women’s equality?
  • Read The Book of Resolutions 2008, ¶ 3445, “The Status of Women,” pp. 526-532.
  • Contact your local Commission on the Status of Women and join their advocacy initiatives for women’s equality.
  • Identify and support women electoral candidates who are committed to poverty elimination.
  • Mobilize women in your community to make rights real. Meet with your senators to advocate for ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
  • Join Women Thrive’s campaign to secure congressional passage of the International Violence Against Women Act.
  • Listen to “Down Here Below” by Abbey Lincoln, jazz singer and civil rights activist, from her album A Turtle’s Dream. See lyrics here.
Last Updated: 09/01/2010

© 2014 United Methodist Women