Dear Asian Youth,
November 7th, 2020: Kamala Harris becomes the first South Asian, Black, Woman vice president elect of the United States of America. I never thought I would see the day where a South Asian woman like myself holds a seat on a presidential ticket. Now that I have witnessed such an event, I have transitioned from hoping to knowing that women belong to the future presidencies and vice presidencies of the United States of America.
After 244 years of racial and gender oppression, the seat of Vice President of the USA belongs to a woman. However, this accomplishment would not have been possible without the previous efforts of other powerful women to fight gender inequality and advocate for equal rights. They include Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who played a key role in integrating women leadership in the House of Representatives, Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be Secretary of State, FDR Advisor Mary McLeod Bethune, a main figure in defending Black rights and the legacy of the Women’s Army Corps, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who played a heavy part in fighting sex discrimination through ruling court cases. Alongside many others, these women have played monumental roles in expanding the true equality of the checks and balances that make up our American system today.
The American political scene has been led by males for centuries and is far behind other countries that have already elected women to serve as the Head of Government and/or State. Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany, has been seated in this position for the past 15 years. Chancellor Merkel has championed human rights as an essential imperative, opening Germany borders in the face of the humanitarian emergency of Europe’s recent refugee crisis. She has helped repair Germany’s economy to be one of the strongest in the world, while maintaining a strong diplomacy with other countries during summits such as G-20 and NATO. Another powerful woman that comes to mind is Jacinda Ardern, the incumbent Prime Minister of New Zealand. PM Ardern is most famously known for her incredible response to the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019. The shooting took the lives of 51 individuals, and was a devastating blow to New Zealand’s internal peace. In response, New Zealand’s government passed the Arms Amendment Act of 2019, banning semi-automatic firearms, magazines, and parts on April 10th. It took 26 days to pass an act on gun control that was desperately needed during the time and this monumental decision has made the country safer and less tolerant of hate crimes. Jacinda Ardern led this movement to make New Zealand a more protected country, and paved the way for several other nations to do the same.
Both Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel continue to govern their respective countries; it is worth noticing that because of their leadership, their nations have each been saved from different crises, Germany from an economic recession and New Zealand from future terrorist attacks. These two women, along with many more female leaders, play great roles in keeping peace in global affairs, and are instead ridiculed for their decisions. The stigma that surrounds women in leadership roles, even in the common workplace, needs to stay in the past in order for the world to proceed towards a better future.
Whether through school or family, , most children have been indirectly nurtured into believing that the concept of society where women are leaders is alien; from “girls” magazines that talk about the latest fashion trends and “boys” magazines that discuss “Exploring Your Future”, to learning about mostly male figures in the sciences and social studies.
While some may argue that men did in fact invent more, achieve more, and are therefore, popularized more; they are incorrect. Men were given a higher education than women, and were pushed to learn more so they could do more. Alternatively, it is imperative to keep in mind that there were several important women scientists and leaders in the past; however, they were not given the recognition that they deserved. Marie Curie, for example, is seldom taught about in any science or history class. Curie is one of only two Nobel laureates who has been awarded the Nobel Prize twice, in Physics and Chemistry. Her discoveries formed the basis of modern chemistry; she coined the term, “radioactivity” and uncovered core principles of the atomic theory. Marie Curie is one of the myriad of women who have greatly contributed to the construction of current society, and to a greater degree, the education that is being taught to boys instead of girls in many countries.
Everyone is born with a voice but for many women, these voices need to be enabled in order for them to be heard. Through education, Malala Yousafzai advocated for her own rights, even in the most perilous of situations. The reality that a girl’s life is endangered when she desires to be educated- to be in the known, is unacceptable and should be the main fuel to the fire when it comes to fighting for female rights. The lack of such consideration and decency is absolutely horrifying when put into perspective with the age of human civilization.
Girls all over the world need to be taught from a young age that their voices matter, and that their opinions are equal to that of their male counterparts. Future generations are an integral part of society as they present an opportunity to disrupt the status quo, for better or worse. Women leaders have been fighting the patriarchal status quo for years, in hopes to transform the norms of this public institution into a civilization where women receive the same opportunities that men have had since the birth of society. It is crucial for parents to educate their daughters, in the same way that they educate their sons. If all girls were treated as if they were the ones who would be leading the future, then the gender imbalance that society maintains will decrease by drastic measures.
Additionally, every child needs to grow up being taught to accept one another for who they are, regardless of their differences. Overall, while academics are highly important to be learned, basic courtesies are equally imperative; if performed more, will greatly improve the foundations of society from judgemental to empathetic. The line between privileges and rights needs to be defined clearly, in order to emphasize what many women around the world are fighting for. In summary:
Education is a right, not a privilege. Personal freedom is a right, not a privilege. Having a voice is a right, not a privilege.
- Prerna Kulkarni
Cover Photo Source: WHYY