Essay By Jessica Martinez, NeW at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
If you asked me if I have experienced oppression for being a woman, my answer would be no. For my whole life, I have had the opportunity to attend school, to speak openly, go outside without having to make sure that I am covered from head to toe. As I grew older, I was able to happily anticipate getting my drivers license, applying for my first job, and excising my right to vote. The list of rights American women have goes on. Overall, it is fair to say we have ownership over our lives. Repeatedly we have seen strong, hard-working women become leaders to make a difference in our communities. These rights and freedoms become second nature to us. It is almost impossible for us to imagine a world where these are nonexistent. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for other women.
While in America we have seen tremendous advancements in women rights, it is not that way in many other countries around the world. Oppression on women looks differently depending on the area of the world. In Muslim-majority countries, specifically those under sharia law, women are completely under male dominance where they are vulnerable to violence and abuse. Sharia law holds control over women’s education, freedom to travel, marriage choices, and even control of their own bodies. Women and young girls captured by Radical Islamic groups like ISIS are raped, physically abused and sold as slaves. Any human right abuse is morally unacceptable, and we must speak up about it.
“As we approach Women’s International Day, let us celebrate the progress made, but remember the type of oppression other women around the world are still facing.”
Since 1913, the celebration of Women’s International Day has been on March 8 in efforts to applaud women achievements, along with highlighting the change that still needs to happen. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress. Let us press for progress for the women under sharia law. International Women’s Day should be a day to not only celebrate, but to speak out on behalf of women with no ability to protect their rights. We should be active in being a voice for these women, fighting against the claim that this type of treatment is cultural or religious.
Being pro-woman means being for all women, and using the freedom we have to shine a light on the oppression these women are molded into living in. Notice the women others choose not to notice. As we honor our women for International Women’s Day, let us delight in our freedom and how far we have come in the fight for equal rights.