Legal Reform Can Help Close the Gender Wage Gap

Emmaline Young, Staff Writer

“After I shared what happened to me with very powerful men in this industry, nobody helped me. No one offered me guidance or a helping hand to lead me to a place where I felt justice, they didn’t even point me in the direction of the mental health assistance I was in dire need of. Those men hid because they were afraid of losing their power.” 

Lady Gaga shared those words during her women in Hollywood acceptance speech in 2018. Gender inequality is an issue throughout the world, showcased in many different religions, in many different environments, and in many different ways. 

The classic and inspiring novel, Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe, highlights the gender roles presented in the Igbo culture during pre-colonial times. As I flipped through the book, reading page after page of the women getting their rights stripped from them wishing they could live a life equal to the men in their society. I began to wonder, how does the United States measure up to what I’m reading right now? Do the women of the United States of America live a better life centuries later or are we just now recognizing their strength? 

II stand here today to tell you that in order for the gender gap to close in the United States, legal reform focusing on gender-inclusive laws is a necessity. Congress will continue to maneuver its way around the present issue but the fight against gender discrimination still continues to challenge the civil rights of women in the 21st century. 

The United Nations noted that “Legal reform, strengthening gender-responsive social protection and public service delivery, quotas for women’s representation, and support for women’s movements are all strategies that have made a difference and should be scaled up.”

 Without this change, women can’t prosper, show their true colors, and endeavor in every opportunity offered for both men and women of the United States. We as females rely on legal action to set us apart from the notion once created centuries ago, no longer representing who we are and what we can be. 

Supporting women through the struggle that not everyone is faced with will bring us closer as a country and unite us once again as a community of security and encouragement. 

Some begin to question why the Equal Rights Amendment is not a part of the Constitution after years of advocating and confrontation but the simple answer to that question lies amongst the audience of this country. “Some critics maintain that to extend special constitutional protection to women only perpetuates an unequal system (albeit one that favors women over men) and that such treatment will ultimately prevent women from establishing their full equality,” stated in an Equal Rights Amendment article in the American Government database. 

Why continue the fight for equality if women’s rights have made so much progress in history? It is the people with the lack of knowledge who challenge the journey of our rights as women and refuse to see our struggles as individuals with the paucity of support and opportunities as men. Statistics found by the World Bank Group concludes that only 6 countries currently provide equal rights for both men and women, not including the United States. 

On the authority of the United Nations, it will take the United States 257 years to close the gender gap. Our chances to reach this achievement seem to resemble water, strong enough to build upon but slipping through our fingers. The gender gap continues to expand as the current pandemic creates competition, leaving the feeling of angst across many. Without the protection of legal reform, we may never be able to close the gender gap after years of pain and discrimination. We won’t beg for your help but we demand that you see our fortitude and with that, we can make a difference in the country we call home.