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“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” - Kofi Annan
March is Women’s History Month. Although March is dedicated to female empowerment, empowering women and girls all twelve months of the year is the quickest way to change the world and the course of history. No country in the world has reached full gender equality yet, but that’s changing rapidly.
Before the 1980s, women’s history and female empowerment were not taught or even encouraged in public schools and society at-large. But in 1987, the United States Congress dedicated the month of March as National Women’s History Month. Each year, the president issues a proclamation honoring the achievements of women. Since the dedication started in 1987, schools across the country have made Women’s History Month an integral part of the curriculum.
Since the 1980s, women in the U.S. have started to enjoy more equal standing in society to men. Over the last 100 years in the U.S., women’s empowerment has increased significantly.
- Women were given voting rights in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment.
- The first Planned Parenthood clinic was opened in 1942.
- In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was introduced in Congress.
- The Supreme Court established the rights of married couples to use birth control in 1965.
- Employers were prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender in 1968.
- Abortion rights were declared legal in 1973.
- Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice in 1981.
- The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994.
- The ban against women serving in the military was removed in 2013.
How does women’s empowerment increase economic stability?
Educating women and girls is one of the fastest ways to lift a nation out of poverty, and the economic empowerment of women is a crucial component of reaching gender equality.
Women’s education is also a critical factor in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.
- In Egypt, children of uneducated mothers have mortality rates twice as high as the children of educated mothers. Women who stay in school for longer are less like to get married as teens, and therefore, experience less pregnancy and childbirth complications. A healthier mother equals a healthier baby and better health outcomes for both.
- Research has found that giving girls access to even one more year of primary school increases their lifetime earnings as much as 20%.
- In the U.S., state laws granting early access to the birth control pill are directly linked to women’s educational achievement and future employment success. Because of these laws, young women can earn more money, narrow the gender wage gap, and experience longer lasting and more fulfilling marriages later in life.
- The education of women and girls in the Serengeti is directly linked to positive environmental impacts and reductions in harm to the ecosystem.
Women’s empowerment is not the only key to lifting individual women out of poverty, it also spurs economic progress within a nation. Women’s empowerment increases the health of children and protects the environment from harm.
Educate a woman, and you educate society.