The Global Empowerment of Women

                                                                               Kerstin Westerlund via Canva

Growing up I always wondered what history would have been like if women were always given the same rights and opportunities as men. Would the world have been more peaceful and less conflict-driven and war-torn? Even from an objective standpoint, society is more likely to thrive overall when people are able to peacefully coexist while sharing equal rights and opportunities non-dependent on gender (or anything else for that matter). Thankfully, the gap of gender inequality is closing. Even if it is at a glacially slow pace, the trend is still upward. The future is definitely female... however, so is the present! Society as a whole still has much progress left to make until men and women are universally treated as equal, yet there is still plenty to learn about what we have already achieved! Here are some pretty cool facts about women and/or gender equality to help you celebrate!  

1. The countries with the most gender equality are also some of the happiest countries in the world.

                                                                            Photo courtesy of Kerstin Westerlund

Coincidence? I think not. While sorting through endless travel journals and articles about the top 10 happiest countries in the world, a noticeable trend is that the Scandinavian countries of Denmark (pictured above), Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland are always near the top of every list. New Zealand and even Canada are also some of the happiest countries that make the top 10 lists as well. These countries conveniently also appear on the Telegraph’s 20 Best Countries for Gender Equality. Perhaps if gender equality existed on a worldwide scale as it does in these countries, maybe we would all be collectively much happier? Why not give it a try, rest of the world. 

For more information about the 10 happiest countries in the world, check out Forbes' list here.

2. Islam is actually a religion that empowers women. Ilhan Omar (pictured above) and Rashida Tlaib are the two first Muslim women in congress! Here Omar is being sworn into the House of Representatives with the Qu’ran, the Islamic holy text. Photo courtesy of Twitter 

Contrary to misconceptions based on limited or biased media coverage, Islam does not impose gender roles, which has been the case since the establishment of the religion. The beloved prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met his wife Khadija because she hired him to work for her successful trade business. Essentially, she was his boss, who was wealthy from her own profit and 15 years older. Not only that, but she was the first person ever to believe Muhammad was the messenger of God, therefore playing a crucial role in the establishment and the spread of Islam. Even today among the typical practices of Islam that some people incorrectly deem as being “unequal”, are actually empowering for women. One of these misconceptions is that dressing modestly and wearing the veil (including the hijab, chador, niqab, etc) is a form of submission to men. That is false. In fact, wearing the veil is a woman’s choice, it is not something they are forced to do. Not all Muslim women wear the veil, and those who do choose to wear it for many different reasons that are mostly much more to do with expression and their relationships with God. Islam itself recognizes equality of women and men. Unfortunately, not very many people recognize this since there are several Muslim majority countries where women do not have equal rights as men. However, this has more to do with the politics and society after a past of colonization and oppression from the Western World. It has very little, if anything, to do with Islam. Even in the U.S., Muslim women are students, professionals, and are in the workforce and are achieving big things - just like other American women!.

*NOTE: the facts and information in the paragraph above are based on my studies of Islam in school and taught to me by a professor. 

3. Women are holding more political positions in the world than ever before.

                                                                     Photo courtesy of BBC

So.. we literally run this world, girls. In 2017 alone, France elected a record number of women to its positions in parliament. The Prime minister of Spain also chose 11 women out of 17 members for his cabinet. Women are even playing the role of the head of government in several nations including Bangladesh, Namibia, and Myanmar, among others. Recently, Romania and Barbados even elected their first female heads of government. However, there is no country with as much female political representation than Rwanda. The African nation’s congress is 64% female making women the majority in politics. Read more about how women are running this world here.  

*All the facts and information in the paragraph above come from BBC 

                                                                     Photo courtesy of Redbubble

4. Some indigenous tribes around the world are even Matriarchal! In a world that had seemingly always been dominated by the patriarchy, there are some societies that have had the opposite. Other societies should take notes from these indigenous tribes who seem to be doing just fine with a women in control. For example, The Mosuo people in China near the border of Tibet live in large households with extended family in which a matriarch is in charge. In other remote areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America , there are other indigenous societies that trace their lineage through maternal ancestry. In some of these societies, such as the Minangkabau in Indonesia, the head of the clan is chosen by women and can be removed by women respectively.

Find out more about Matriarchial and Matrilineal societies here

                                                                            Kerstin Westerlund via Canva 

5. A universal increase in laws against sexual assault and violence. While the issue of sexual violence still remains largely unresolved, there is much more legislation being passed that decreases the tolerance of such crimes. Sweden, for example has very little tolerance for sexual assault and punishments for sex crimes are more severe. Other nations such as India and Spain have also adopted new laws regarding rape and consent. Not to mention- the #MeToo movement went viral worldwide empowering women and raising awareness about sexual assault and rape culture. Us women are so strong for even having to live with the threat of sexual assault and violence. Increasing the severity of laws regarding this kind of behavior is the very least we deserve.

Learn about Sweden's very low tolerance for sexual assault here.

Read more about India's anti-rape law here.

And click here for more information on Spain's new consent law.