The Slippery Slope of Women’s Rights

The Women’s March on January 21, 2017, in reaction to Donald Trump’s inauguration, certainly caught my attention. Millions of women around the world marched in the interests of protecting human rights, which included women’s rights. Politics aside, I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, women are still having to organize and participate in such protests.

As a young woman just gaining my own independence in 1970, I was very vocal about such issues. Women could and should have every opportunity accorded to men, I argued. I felt that women were on the cusp of becoming equals partners in government, business and society in general. It was a hopeful time with much promise.

I would run into a few roadblocks in those early years. For instance, when I went to my bank to apply for a credit card, I was told that I didn’t need one. After all, my husband had a credit card, so why would I need one. After a few curt comments to that employee, I was quickly signed up for my own card.

I could go into a litany of similar occurrences, none of which were dire situations. But the manner in which I would sometimes be treated because I was a woman was irksome and basically unfair. Within a short time, I took to signing my name simply as G. Krawetz, so my gender was not obvious and not an issue.

So fast forward to 2017 and I find that some things have not improved with age. Women are still being overlooked for promotions, despite the fact that they often have the same set of skills and equal experience. Women are still being red-flagged if they are planning on having a family. And women still have to deal with the whole issue of how their looks play into possible employment opportunities. The other night as I watched a news channel, I noted to my husband that the one fellow was quite up in age. When was the last time we saw a female anchor sporting gray hair and noticeable wrinkles?

What dismays me the most is that women are still having to be watchful that their hard-fought-for rights are not being slowly eroded. Whether this latest march is a one-day wonder or a genuine movement remains to be seen. But the fact that so many women, and men, felt compelled to hold a peaceful march is concerning. These protests are important, because if it can happen in the U.S., it can happen anywhere.

How do we begin to even address the issue of women being mistreated in other countries, if we lose our voice at home. In too many places, women are second-class citizens with few, if any, rights. Take Saudi Arabia for instance, where the guardianship system prevents women from doing vital tasks without the permission of a male relative. Women in the Punjab region of Pakistan face terrible abuses. Honour killings and acid attacks are still common and accepted by many. And Russia just repealed a law, which now means domestic violence is no longer considered a criminal offence.

Although I might not be one for marches, I am that woman who will speak out when I think gender discrimination is occurring. Maybe as a retired woman, I should be speaking out more. After all, I can’t be fired or overlooked for promotion if I make a stink. Besides, the women in my life – my daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and children of my friends – deserve better.

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