If you thought the United States was ahead of the game in relation to female rights and equality, think again. In order to assess gender equality in the United States, the U.N. sent three female human rights experts from Poland, the United Kingdom, and Costa Rica on a 10-day tour of America. What they found out might shock you.
Eleonora Zielinska, Alda Facio, and Frances Raday made their journey this past month, traveling to Alabama, Texas, and Oregon. Over the course of their journey, they evaluated U.S. policies and attitudes through the exploration of American prison, health, and school systems.
From The Huffington Post:
The delegates were appalled by the lack of gender equality in America. They found the U.S. to be lagging far behind international human rights standards in a number of areas, including its 23 percent gender pay gap, maternity leave, affordable child care and the treatment of female migrants in detention centers.
Especially frightening,the women reported, was their visit to an abortion clinic in Alabama. Upon the women’s arrival, they were harassed by two male protesters waiting outside. Apparently, the men shouted things like “You’re murdering children!”, despite the fact the women were no longer of a childbearing age.
While abortion protestors are not at all uncommon in the United States, European abortion clinics are located inside actual hospitals and care centers. The more private environment allows women to enter and exit without any harassment or heckling.
For instance, the U.S. is one of three countries in the world that does not guarantee women paid maternity leave, according to the U.N. International Labour Organization. The U.N. suggests that countries guarantee at least 14 weeks of paid parental leave. Some countries go further — Iceland requires five months paid leave for each parent, and an additional two months to be shared between them.
Gun violence was a major issue, too. Women in America are 11 times more likely to be killed by gunshot than in the majority of high-income countries. According to evidence from the Center for American Progress, “five women are murdered with a gun in the United States every day, most often by an intimate partner.”
But the biggest surprise of the trip? Many women may fail to realize the lack of rights when compared to other countries. We may associate America with being a revolutionary and free country, and yet we are far still far behind when it comes to equal rights among the sexes. Raday reports:
“So many people really believe that U.S. women are way better off with respect to rights than any woman in the world. “They would say, ‘Prove it! What do you mean other people have paid maternity leave?”
Their tour left the three experts with several suggestions on how to better things for women in the United States. These included passing campaign finances reform laws that would encourage for female political candidates, passing federal laws to stop the latest abortion restrictions, and raise the minimum wage.
In June 2016, they plan on presenting a completed analysis to the U.N. Human Rights Council in hopes to ensure quality rights for American women.
Have you experienced inequality as a woman in America? How so?
Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.