Women’s Rights are Human Rights

7 Feb

by Catherine Gannage

“Women’s rights are human rights”
~ Hillary Clinton, 1995

I grew up in a society where, in my eyes, women seemed to have the same rights and opportunities as men. It was always evident to me that women and men should be considered equal, and, as a child, I made sure every boy in my class knew that. In a way, I have been a feminist since before I knew what the word even meant. However, years later, when I was selected by my school to attend the Women in the World Summit in March 2012, I realized just how little women’s rights meant to some. This came as a shock to me because we are human, just like men, so why shouldn’t “women’s rights [be] human rights?”

As I witnessed many fearless women tell their stories on stage, I wondered whether I should rejoice at the fact that I was there, or lament that we even needed to hold this conference. We should not be still fighting the fight that our mothers and grandmothers already fought. And yet we are. So we cannot abandon this battle until we get exactly what we want and deserve!

I know that it will be a challenge for American women to obtain equal rights in real life, just as it will be hard for my peers to obtain more seats in Congress, in the Senate, or even in the White House. Nonetheless, it is a challenge that I am willing to fight. At the conference, Lyndsey Addario, photojournalist in regions of conflict, said she “can’t imagine [her] life not documenting these things.” Similarly, I cannot imagine sitting idly by while men decide what basic rights I should be allowed to have. I will not stand by as others discuss what goes on in my body, whether or not I should have access to birth control, an abortion, or basic health care. These are things I have a say in, and no one can stop me from speaking out!

Madeleine Albright made my day the first night of the conference when she said, “you know what people say there aren’t enough qualified women, that’s one of the biggest bullshit things I’ve ever heard.” What first struck me was that our former Secretary of State just swore in front of an audience, but also that she was entirely right. Women are underrepresented in the workforce, not because they are less qualified than men, but because men just do not want to see women in power. I guess they are just going to have to deal with that from now on because I plan on making a difference.

After hearing dozens of empowering stories from women who have achieved extraordinary feats, and lived through tough situations, I know I cannot let women down. For the sake of women everywhere, I will achieve every single one of my goals, and in doing so, I will show the rest of the world just what we are made of.

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