7 Equality Laws The United States Doesn't Have For Women — But Should

Feminism, Laws In The United Sates
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The United States has become a great place to be a woman thanks to women' suffragists and men who have supported feminism.

Here, women can drive, vote, travel without a man, work, and receive health care. Women in America can also receive an education and marry whomever they choose. Historically, the United States is a symbol of opportunity and possibility for both men and women — or so some would believe.

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But when you compare laws that empower women in the United States to laws that other countries have for women — it's sad. There is a lot of work left to do for feminists.

As great as this country is, it lags behind other countries in ways that might surprise you. In fact, there are essential laws women in the United States would benefit from that don't exist here Ironically, these same laws are enforced in other countries around the world.

Here are 7 laws regarding feminism that are enforced in other countries but NOT the United States.

1. Full governmental protection against violation of any right provided to men.

These laws are found in the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), there was never another document that explicitly acknowledged and guaranteed the rights of women.

That is until 1979 when the CEDAW was adopted by the UN. The purpose of the CEDAW was to put an end to discrimination against women. It also establishes equality from everything to healthcare, marriage, education, political participation, and employment/wages. Within this treaty is what’s called the “international bill of rights for women.” It promises to push for an end to violence and establish gender equality.

Note: The United States is one of only SEVEN countries that hasn’t ratified it.

The other countries that have yet to ratify it are Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tonga. The United States is only a SIGNATORY to the CEDAW, but to completely ratify it takes two-thirds of the Senate vote. The CEDAW has never even made it the Senate floor for a vote. What’s up with that?

2. Fair representation.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the U.S. Congress ranks in the bottom half of the national parliaments around the world when it comes to women members. Although there are in fact more women in Congress than there ever has been, that only makes up for 19.4% of the 535 seats on Capitol Hill.

On the other hand, women in Rwanda makeup for an astonishing 38.5% of the Senate.

Furthermore, women are more represented in Uganda, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The United States is among several countries that have never had a female head of state, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report of 2014.

The United States’ Constitution is one of 32 other constitutions that does not mention any promise of gender equality. There are 197 constitutions worldwide, and 84% of them guarantee gender equality in some form, according to the WORLD Policy Analysis Center — except for the United States.

3. Equal opportunity when it comes to career.

A World Economic Forum reported that out of 142 countries, The United States ranks 65th in wage equality for similar work. In 2013, American women who were employed full-time, year-round, were only paid 78% of what men were paid. In other words, that’s 78 cents for every dollar earned on average by a white male.

To make matters worse, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that black women make 64 cents and Latinas make 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white man in the US.

Countries, where women are better off in regards to their paycheck, include Burundi, Mongolia, Thailand, Malaysia, Iceland, Japan, and Botswana.  

4. Paid maternity leave — guaranteed.

According to the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, mothers of newborns are guaranteed paid maternity leave in 188 countries, but NOT the United States. There are only nine countries in the world that don’t guarantee new mothers paid leave. Aside from the United States, the other eight countries are Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Tonga.

Even so, five of those countries still guarantee paid maternity leave to public sector employees. The United States is the only high-income country that doesn’t guarantee any kind of paid maternity leave to newborn mothers. (In my opinion, that is truly a shame.)

What’s even more bizarre is that 49% of countries in the world offer paid leave to newborn mothers AND fathers. Saudi Arabia is one of them, but not even the United States is willing to take this approach.

5. Reality-based protection against gender discrimination. 

In a 2011 issue of California Lawyer, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that “the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” Even Afghanistan’s constitution includes equal rights provisions for women. Although they are often not enforced (what a shocker), this still provide some kind of legal framework for lawyers to work with when necessary.

In 1923, The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress. This proposed that women were provided explicit protections, which are now offered in constitutions across the world. Both houses of Congress passed it in 1972. It then went on to the state legislatures, requiring the ratification of 38 states.

However, by the time the deadline hit in 1982, it was three states away from passing. Iceland established ‘The Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men’ in 2000 with the goal of reaching equal rights through all aspects of society.This law defines nine areas of gender discrimination, one of which recognizes the differences between indirect and direct gender discrimination.

It also acknowledges gaps in wages, and also points out how gender-related violence is damaging to society.

6. A secured number of seats in politics and education that promotes fairness.

After the financial collapse of 2009, the Icelandic government made a strong effort to place more women in seats of power as a means to reduce corruption. Article 15 of the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men states that no public company board or government council/committee may have less than 40% gender equality.

This law also states that any company with more than 25 employees must have a gender equality program in place, which will review goals every three years. What’s even greater about this law is that it mandates that gender equality must be taught in schools throughout all levels of education.

By the way, I should also mention that this means from early education through university, which is free, all sports, classes, and forms of schooling must include and practice gender equality. Iceland has no time for sexist books or assignments either.

7. Laws that protect how women are treated sexually.

Speaking of Iceland, they have very strict laws on sex work. 

Iceland banned strip clubs in 2009 for feminist reasoning. The revised law states no business may profit from the nudity of employees. This applies to public advertising too. No ad may belittle any gender or go against the country’s fierce mission to achieve gender equality.

So there you have it. Yes, the United States is a great country and there have been lots of actions taken to support and expand women’s rights. Still, a lot more can be done and NEEDS to be done. No country is perfect per se, but as a woman, I would love to see more growth and action when it comes to gender equality and feminism.

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