On 8 March 1908 female garments workers in USA took to the Manhattan streets protesting against gender discrimination demanding equal pay, better working conditions, childcare centers and right to vote. Since then, this day has been looked upon as one of the first mass protests by women right groups and after a hundred years, we need to do some soul searching as to whether the women in today’s world have succeeded in attaining their legal and social rights. Women have traversed a long path since 1908 and have stormed the male bastion with élan and pride. While we have women political leaders, social activists, noble laureates, CEOs, astronauts and the list is endless but around the globe especially in the developing world there still exists social, political and economic discriminations. It can be safely said that there are two classes of women in our society – the haves and have-nots. The successful women, unfortunately occupy a small section of the global women population while the overwhelming majority live under the shadow of domestic violence, illiteracy and social discrimination. In a recent study in UK new mothers returning to work were found to be swapping career status for more flexible jobs that allow them more time to be spent with the babies. In fact, the problems that mothers face in all societies is rather complex. According to Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, history shows us that it is difficult for women to adjust to a system meant for men and designed by men. According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), women fall short in many of the main indicators that measure progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. Two-thirds of the 960 million illiterate adults in the world are women. Worldwide women employed in industries and services earn 78% of what men earn in the same sectors. Women’s share in decision-making positions stood at 30% in only 28 countries in the 1990s. Additional 70% of the global poor are women. If a woman’s race is taken as an additional factor then it doubles the burden of gender and racial discrimination depending on the part of the globe she belongs. For an aboriginal woman living in Australia or a Dalit woman living in India or a female asylum seeker living in UK their woes are no different.
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