2016 did not turn out to be that great for women, across the globe and especially in the US. 2016 left many women feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable, as vital issues like equal pay, reproductive rights, paid family leave and equality for the LGBT community were sidelined.
So let's hope that a few prominent issues take a turn for the better in 2017.
The Anti-Abortion Fight
Arguably the most high-profile attack on women's rights has been the continued fight against abortion access by so-called "pro-life" advocates. Their opposition has almost always been without consideration for the myriad reasons why women opt for an abortion in the first place. Their stance not only denies women the fundamental right to assert control over their own bodies, but also systemically exposes their lives to considerable risk.
Sexual Harassment and Assault
America went through a prolonged and contentious election campaign that unceasingly trivialized sexual harassment and assault of women. Leading lights of the country’s leading pastimes are routinely accused of domestic violence, only to be let off with negligible consequences. Nothing symbolizes this better in 2016 than Stanford athlete Brock Turner receiving a 6-month sentence for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman.
Plight of Female Refugees
The large-scale issues facing women worldwide are too many to summarize, be it the uneducated millions of women and girls to the victims of genital mutilation. Some of the most prevalent struggles of our times are being faced by female refugees, particularly those escaping conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. Compared to their travails, Women in America are exceedingly fortunate.
By having predominantly male dominated organizations making decisions and products for women, the desires, preferences and wants of women have largely been ignored. This situation shows no sign of improving despite over 50 companies signing the Equal Pay Pledge last year. At least in the world of media, things are changing for the better with the success of the female lead of Star Wars, Orange Is the New Black and Samantha Bee’s late night show.
More work needs to be done to boost the economy and expand the middle class. One step through which American families stand to benefit significantly is by closing the wage gap. Closing the pay gap would yield an astounding average benefit of $6,551 per working woman! This is money that can help families prosper and aid the economy in the process.
Even more can be guaranteed through paid sick, family and medical leave—not just for mothers, but for all workers.