Don’t Say Women Have the Same Rights as Men


Sofia Carney, Guest Writer

Women don’t have the same rights as men. According to Article One the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

First, women are paid less than men despite having the same job just because of their gender, this is called the wage gap. The median annual pay for a woman who has a full-time, year-round job is $40,742, while a man, who has the same job, earns $51,212. That means that for every dollar a man makes a women makes 80 cents. This gap is even greater for women who are minorities. On average for every dollar a man makes a black women makes 63 cents, a Latina women makes 54 cents, and an Asian women makes 85 cents.  All together, women employed full-time lose an estimated total of more than $840 billion each year due to the wage gap. This is a significant problem as women have less money to support themselves and their families, save for the future, invest, and buy goods. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, if the wage gap were eliminated, on average working women could afford, “fifteen more months of childcare, 1.2 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, 78 more weeks of food for her family, seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments, eleven more months of rent, and up to 8.7 additional years of birth control.”

Second, women don’t have as easy access to healthcare as compared to men. Planned Parenthood, which is one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers, is currently at risk of being defunded by the government. The current administration and some Members of Congress want to defund Planned Parenthood to control women from having access to a safe abortion. On February 25th, 2016, President Donald Trump said, “I would defund it because of the abortion factor.” The fact is that federal funding for Planned Parenthood doesn’t go towards abortions, it goes towards their other public health services. These services include birth control, morning-after pill, general healthcare for men and women, HIV services, LGBT services, pregnancy tests, STD tests/treatment/vaccines, cancer screenings, pelvic exams, fertility tests, and more. When Trump signed the bill targeting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he was surrounded by nine white men. White men should not have the sole right to dictate what a women can and can’t do with their bodies. The defunding of Planned Parenthood is a problem because if it were shut down, 2.4 million people a year would lose access to birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests, and more.

Another example of healthcare disparity can be seen at the U.S Department of Defense. In 2014, the DoD spent $41.6 million on Viagra and $82.24 million on erectile dysfunction for male soldiers, but won’t spend anything on feminine products for female soldiers. This is a problem because women spend roughly over $1,000 on tampons in their lifetime for something they can’t control. That doesn’t include pads, pain medicine, and heating pads. The government would rather fund a drug that helps men have sex than a product that women have no choice but to use for roughly 38 years of their life.

Finally, women are underrepresented when it comes to medical research. Lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined. Approximately 45% of lung cancer is diagnosed in women while only 31% of lung cancer study participants are women. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of U.S. women and it affects women and men differently. Only 33% of cardiovascular clinical trial subjects are female. In a medical research study of over 50,000 mice, their gender had an impact on 56.6% of the results in the trials. This is because females and males metabolize drugs differently, so the same treatment may not work on both sexes. These are both huge problems because women aren’t being included in enough tests to find a cure or drug for cancer or other diseases. Men and women also respond to drugs differently so not recording the sex of participants could have damaging impacts on the healthcare of both men and women.

The current solution for the wage gap is the Equal Pay Act that was implemented in 1963 to abolish wage differences based on gender. This Act has worked to get more women in the workforce, but wage discrimination is still an ongoing issue. The main reason why the Equal Pay Act has not been totally successful is that it is not enforced. There is no consequence for paying men more than women for doing the same job. One solution to this problem is to make a new law that states that any employer cannot underpay a women or any minority, and if the employer is caught violating this law, they could get fined or serve jail time. There needs to be a punishment for underpaying women just because of their gender.

There is no current solution for getting easier access to healthcare as a woman. The current administration is working to defund Planned Parenthood and if the new tax bill becomes law, around 13.1 million people will lose access to healthcare. One solution to this is to get more Democrats in the House and Senate. This would help return federal support for Planned Parenthood because Democrats care about women’s right and are pro-choice. They could also be encouraged to introduce bills that allow women and minorities to get easier access to healthcare, instead of taking it away.

A current solution for making period products cheaper is to pass a national “Tampon Tax.” States such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and Illinois allow feminine care products to be exempt from sales tax. This solution has been effective in these nine states and should be expanded to apply to the remaining 41 states that do not exempt feminine care products.

The solution to get more women included in medical research is the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993. This law states that women and minorities must be included in government funded health research. While this law was intended to address gender inequality in research women are still underrepresented in research studies. This is because, just like the Equal Pay Act, it is not enforced. A solution to this would be to add incentives to the NIH Revitalization Act for including an equal amount of women and men. Finally, for this solution to work there must be consequence, such as a fine, if a study doesn’t have an equal amount of women and men.

While there has been many important strides to improve gender equality in society, large gaps still exist between men and women in areas such as salaries, healthcare, and medical research. Trying to close the gaps between men and women improves society overall by showing that everyone deserves equal rights no matter your gender.