Women’s Recognition and Equality in the Public Sphere

In 1971, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. While most of us would not be aware this day even existed, this year, the end of August has brought two events that are worth looking at as a means of reflection on women’s equality. 

This month saw the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The program for this historic event held a speech by only one woman, who was given about 60 seconds to speak. While women were ever present in the trenches of the civil rights movement and played in irreplaceable role in the movement over all, the fact that their public representation was almost nonexistent at that time can be used as a gauge to show the progress that has taken place. This year at the 50th anniversary gathering in Washington DC, the line up of women proved the prominent public role women now accepted into, with speeches from women such as Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

A second monumental event worth mentioning that occurred this month was the official recognition in Saudi Arabia of domestic violence as a punishable offense. Up to this point domestic violence has been considered a private matter in Saudi Arabia; this change marks a dramatic increase in women’s rights and a very strong step towards a greater level of equality, beginning in the home, between in the genders in the Middle East.  (The below link shows the country’s first ant-abuse campaign that I found extremely powerful).

Nalani Genser

Northeastern University

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