Written by Raven Symes
In 2014, Malala Yousafzai was on her way home from school in Pakistan when the Taliban shot her in the face.
Only 15, she had been targeted for speaking out about the importance of education for girls.
Since 11 she had spoken publicly and was interviewed about the hindrance to her education by the Muslim terrorist organization. When she deepened her involvement in activism, they tried to kill her.
The oppression takes many forms in Pakistan. For instance, virginity tests are illegal but are still performed on rape victims. This seeks to place the blame upon the woman for having had intercourse. A medical organization in Pakistan is responsible for completing these exams.
Next door in Afghanistan the Taliban are no longer allowing girls to attend school. The official explanation is that it’s for temporary security reasons. The women are prohibited from working as well.
Meanwhile in Texas, we see policies fit for the Middle East. There, women’s reproductive rights are stripped away after six weeks of pregnancy. Under a new state law, abortions are illegal at six weeks when the fetus has a stable heart. Most women don’t realize they are carrying until after this period.
Our rights are being trampled. Our mothers, sisters, and the other women in our lives are victims of systemic oppression.
“We are going backward,” said Annaliese Bonacquista, FRCC U.S. women’s history professor. She has been teaching this subject for nine years.
When asked if our rights were improving, she answered: “No.” Health care, decisions with our bodies, and expectations are just a few examples of the inequality we are experiencing, she said.
Around the world, women are subjected to gender-based violence more than men. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008 reported that one in three women endures to some form of abuse.
Our rights have been groped and fondled by men for decades. It is within our liberty to own our lives. In health care we do not receive the proper care after an assault. We are often denied education. If we become pregnant, our jobs can be terminated.
“We define ourselves,” Bonacquista said in speaking about empowerment. Gender boundaries are limiting the expressions of identities, she said. Stereotypes within society define who we are supposed to be. The way we dress or speak does not dictate who we are.
Our progress within political leadership is stunted. We continue to be underrepresented.
“I raise my voice,” writes Malala “not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” Within our leadership religion is corrupting our governments and inflicting suffering.
Feminists have raised their voices, and we will be heard. Afghan, Pakistani, and U.S. women are fighting different battles, but we are wanting the same outcome: our freedom.
We are owed our rights for our contributions to society.
We have fought hard to get where we are. Do not submit. Make your voice heard, and fight with us.