Today we live in a society where women and men are looked upon as equal genders with equal rights, but this is just because we live in Norway. A modern country which is known for being a leading country in the development of gender equality, young people of today, take this for granted. But we must remember, it haven`t always been like this!
For 203 years ago, in 1814, the Norwegian constitution was founded. In the constitution it said the people of Norway should rule over our own country, but still it took 99 more years before women finally got the right to vote in 1913. According to the constitution, women wasn’t even looked upon as people before 1913. The idea of women voting was presented to the government first in 1890, but was turned down with the conclusion that women’s nature did not belong in politics and would just be an obstacle. They also meant if women entered the politics it would harm the family. Feminists were struggling for 28 more years, to introduce the right to vote for women. The feminist movement lasted from 1885 until they succeeded in 1913.In their time, they made a significant prosses in reforming law and social customs in a nation, benefiting to the women of Norway.
In India 10 years ago, a 16-year-old girl was brutally attacked with acid for refusing a marriage proposal to a 32-year-old man. After spending 6 years behind a veil, she finally showed her marred face when the public exploded with outrage of a gang rape on a bus and joined the growing efforts to stop acid attacks and abuse against women. Last year, this 24-year-old woman, Laxmi, was awarded an International Women of Courage award in Washington, DC. In fact, she read a poem she composed at the award ceremony and part of it was directed at her attacker. It said “You haven’t thrown acid on my face, you threw it on my dreams… The time will be burdened for you. Then you will know that I am alive, free and thriving and living my dreams.”
The rules of equality go as following:
Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. And, most importantly, article 16: (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to establish a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Entering marriage shall be done only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
These are human rights. Not the rights of men, but of men and women together.
But what about in our society? We don’t live in India or Saudi Arabia, where two women recently spent 70 days in prison for defying the kingdom’s ban on women drivers. I, personally, have rarely been discriminated for being a woman. But I can’t say as much for others.
When society believes all girls` problems are solved with makeovers to possibly get a male attention, but boys` problems are solved when they accept themselves and get laid. When females are taught to control sexual urges until marriage but males are taught that their sexual urges are manly. When a short skirt is too revealing but a long skirt is too prude. When a strong woman is too butch but a woman casually wearing a dress is too girly. When a chubby girl doesn’t care enough but a skinny girl cares too much. This is unacceptable. Because men, women and all people should be treated with respect. Gender equality is currently so far beyond our reach, since our generation aren’t doing anything to change it.
How will we continue the work of women like Luxmi, Loujain al-Hathloul, Maysa al-Amoudi, from Saudi Arabia, and Susan B. Anthony, an active suffragette who fought for a right we now take for granted? When this generation doesn’t even pay attention to how bad sexism is around the world, how are we to change it?
Did you know that J.K. Rowling, the amazingly successful author of the Harry Potter series, was advised to use her initials instead of her full name so that her books might sell to a wider market; namely, to boys, who, presumably, would not have read something written by a female?
And girls liking pink isn’t a problem when they are asked ‘would you like the orange one, the blue one or the pink one?’ But it is a problem when they’re asked, ‘would you like the rose one, the salmon one or the fuchsia one?’
We can change this. Girls should have the right to refuse a marriage proposal, drive if they want to, choose blue over pink, and use their own name. But the people that force this upon us won’t live forever, and when they’re gone, it is up to us to replace them. Up to us to allow women to make their own choices, up to us to give children the option to choose their own toys, and up to us to make sure that women can have all the same courtesies men have. And vice versa.
It’s time that we, the next generation, take charge to change. It’s time that we decide how our future will pan out, how our children will grow up. As Hillary Rodham Clinton said, ‘It’s time that we move from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions.’ And I know for a fact that there is no way I will stand here and watch my life go by as an underdog, as the inferior race. We are neither inferior nor superior. We are equal. Men, women and all people should be treated with respect.
Because now we have a chance to change the truth.
Change it to a better, gentler truth.
Change it to the truth all women’s rights activists have dreamed of.
Because we are the future.
We are the change.