Women may have an Equality Day but being equal is still an aspiration

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 26, 2015
The stamp that commemorates American women's right to vote

The stamp that commemorates American women’s right to vote

America marked women’s equality day exactly a month ago. Not women’s day, please note, but an entirely different, more limited celebration.

Basically, Women’s Equality Day marks suffragette success in getting the vote for women 95 years ago (the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920). Women’s equality, however, is still only an aspiration.

The US Constitution still does not even have an amendment that explicitly guarantees women equal rights. Legislators had a stab at it back in 1972 but the Equal Rights Amendment died forlorn and unratified by all the 38 states that needed to do so.

And equal pay can still be a dream too far unless you fight for it, as Hollywood actresses still find. (Click here for the Reuters report on Charlize Theron’s call to women to take a stand on equal pay. Ms Theron managed to

Negotiate a salary equal to her male co-star for the Snow White sequel ‘The Huntsman’.)

But women’s equality in America – as in much of the world – presents a patchy picture. In New York, they can enjoy the smallest pay gap – 87.6 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In Louisiana, they are hit by a more unequal reality – 66.7 cents for every dollar.

Globally, women earn just 77 per cent of what their male counterparts do, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO). This has improved by just three percentage points in the past 20 years, it adds, a glacial pace that will mean nearly another century before the gap is erased.