International Women’s Day and the Progress We’ve Made
It’s International Women’s Day today, a time to commemorate all the achievements made by and for women. Looking back at the past few years, it’s safe to say we’ve made some strides although I’m not convinced it’s enough, but maybe my perception was skewed all along.
When we look at the numbers, things appear to be moving along for women. There are more of us in the workforce, a higher percentage of women in executive and leadership roles. Yet when we compare those figures to the achievements of men, we find that we still fall way, way behind.
Not that we should be surprised. Women still pay a penalty if they take a break from their careers to raise family or children and we continue to lack behind men in wages.
The bright side to this is that we’re at the point where women are deciding their own fate. They’re deciding to leave the workforce or to turn down leadership roles, and even whether or not to have children, as opposed to past decades where those decisions were forced upon them.
Then the pandemic hit and after nearly two years in isolation, we learned that burnout was not okay. That what we needed was time to relax and reflect, and most importantly, that we shouldn’t have to make careers and work a top priority. It was then that women started paving their own path, instead of constantly looking upwards and planning to become the next trailblazers. No, what we wanted at this point was the remote jobs, where we can finally have it all and work toward our career goals with the children right by our sides.
Where do we go from here? It’s hard to tell. Americans in general are burned out and most are opting for a relaxed work schedule over the ever-changing and challenging office environment. Either one we choose is okay, so long as we make that decision and it’s not made for us.
From my own observations, I can’t say that a lot will change with respect to women’s progression. Of course, we’d like to see more women out of poverty and protected from any type of assault and abuse. With respect to personal growth, I find more women from younger generations are still holding on to the idea of having families and taking a break from the workforce. But this time, they’re doing it their way, fingers crossed with their heads screwed on right and making sure to complete their education first and still have a foot in the workplace.
This has me thinking whether we’ve been gauging success and personal achievement all wrong, especially for women. Maybe it was never about aiming for the highest positions or earning the largest salaries. Maybe all this fighting and struggling for equal rights was for the chance to make individual decisions without having to answer to cultures, expectations, and the men in our lives.
Whatever the case may be, I’m for it. It’s important to allow sensible, grown adults to make their own decisions, regardless of their sex. Gone are the days where men ruled (for the most part) and made absolute decisions for the family, especially the women of the household. And you know what? Here are the days where women can finally say with pride in their voices, that yes, they choose to have children and to stay home for a few years to raise them. In the past, this choice seemed stifling, as if someone was breathing down the backs of women and making it their duty to put family first. Not now, and most likely not ever again. No, it appears that the women’s rights movement has made more than enough progress, because it’s our call now. The challenge, however, is to spread this privilege to the millions of women worldwide still lagging behind.