The battle for gender equality is not done

I am a feminist.

Until recently, I would have never said that proudly. In fact, I would never have said it at all.

Besides the inevitable ridicule that immediately follows that statement (much of which I’m sure I’ll receive after this article), I honestly never believed that there was a reason for me to be one. But in the past few weeks, I’ve become acutely aware that the fact that I am not a man has severely restricted my options in life.

I started noticing discrepancies that exist even here at Brunswick and Greenwich Academy.

The fact of the matter is there is no model for our schools’ coordination system with the exception of society itself, and needless to say, society still has a long way to go before it achieves true gender equality.

Not many of my female peers seem to have the same fervor to fight my “feminist” battle, and I get that. From where we sit, especially with all the opportunities we have at GA, there doesn’t seem to be a battle to fight because we believe we have already won.

We take for granted what many women before us have fought for, like the 19th Amendment, the Equal Pay Act, the Equal Rights Act, Title IX,  and Roe v. Wade. And in doing so we remain blind to what unfinished work there is to be done.

For example, despite the Equal Pay Act, women are still paid 70 cents to a man’s dollar.

In 2010, Republicans in the Senate blocked an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have actually enforced the legislation already in place to ensure equal treatment of men and women in the workplace. Beyond legislation, there are still social taboos and norms that inhibit equal treatment of women.

Embarking on my new crusade, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In. In order for women to achieve universal equality in the United States and abroad, more women need to be in power, Ms. Sandberg argues. For this to happen, the battle has to be fought on two fronts. First, women need to take it upon themselves to achieve their full potential. Second, legislation and social norms need to alter in order to make leadership positions more accessible to more women.

Lean In is incredibly well written, mind opening, and inspiring. I felt empowered after reading it. It feels weird to even say stuff like that because I feel so cliché in doing so and this sentiment is still very new to me.

But really, the fight is not over for girls. Women today cannot expect that they will be treated equally, which is a sad reality, but a reality nonetheless. I implore everyone to read Lean In, both women and men, girls and boys.

When we leave school and join something that maybe resembles “the real world” we must be prepared. We need to be aware that the archaic notion of female inferiority is not unique to black-and-white films and third-world countries. Yes, American women have more opportunities than women in most countries, but we’re still not 50/50.

With that in mind, how can we ever expect girls to be able to go to school in Pakistan, or escape the sex trade in Cambodia, or avoid gang rape in India? We need to continue to raise the bar so that women and men in other countries can rise to meet it.

This is the 21st Century, so let’s all start living in it.


Julie Kukral is a senior at Greenwich Academy.

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