Women’s Rights Issues to Focus on in 2020

The Global Fund for Women poignantly wrote, “Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet nearly 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; to earn a fair and equal wage.”1

While women have come a long way in securing the rights mentioned above, they are still often denied them, solely based on gender.

As we kickstart a new decade and continue to make the world a more equitable place, here are some key barriers to women’s rights to focus on:

Gender-Based Violence

Defined by the United States Agency of International Development, gender-based violence is “violence that is directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex, gender identity, or perceived adherence to socially-defined norms of masculinity and femininity.”2 Covering acts including, but not limited to, physical or sexual abuse and human trafficking, gender-based violence manifests itself in various ways in the lives of women around the world.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that 1 in 4 women experience severe physical or sexual violence that results in injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.3 Together, adult women and under-aged girls account for 72% of trafficking victims, and 4 out of 5 women and 3 out of 4 girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation.4

Unfortunately, the above statistics cover a small selection of the ways in which women suffer from acts of gender-based violence. Cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, forced labor, stalking, and even homicide, are real and current threats impacting women.

In NYC, organizations like Safe Horizon are taking action against gender-based violence by partnering with governmental and community agencies to help those affected by violence and abuse. To advocate against this pressing issue, get involved with Safe Horizon and the following NYC organizations:

Workplace Equality

According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019 report, for every 100 men promoted to management, only 72 women were promoted. That number is even lower for women of color and Latinas5. McKinsey further reports that while female representation in senior-level roles has increased, women are still underrepresented in senior leadership. The glass ceiling shows signs of cracking, but it’s still a barrier for a lot of women in the workplace.

Workplace inequality extends past promotions and job titles. Inequality.org reports that women make up 63% of workers earning minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009. Across industries, women in American earn less than men, with the most substantial gap being company management positions. In these roles, men made an average of $90,000 in 2017, compared to $57,000 for women.6 Even in lucrative fields such as financial services, insurance, or real estate, men’s median earnings continued to surpass women.

While women are still fighting for representation and recognition in the corporate world, there are issues that extend beyond the office. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women are overrepresented in industries such as education, healthcare, and hospitality, and underrepresented in fields such as software development, law, and agriculture.7

Take action against discrimination in the workplace by partnering with organizations like Vital Voices, which trains and mentors emerging women leaders nationally, and across the globe. To advocate for workplace equality and learn more about you can make a positive change for women in work, learn more about Vital Voices and the following NYC organizations:

Educational Equity

Education plays a major role in providing work opportunities. From as early as Kindergarten, boys and girls are stereotyped by teachers and educated according to their gender-based attributes. For example, Associate Professor of Economics and Education Policy at New York University, Joseph Cimpian, conducted a study that revealed, by default, teachers assumed that girls needed to work harder to perform as well as boys in math classes.8 This sets girls on a path away from STEM fields, simply because a stereotype is being endorsed through the education system.

In a related study, Cimpian explored the impact of discrimination on women pursuing higher education in math and science-related fields.

Cimpian explains, “Our findings speak to both STEM and non-STEM disciplines. If college administrators want to increase female representation in fields as varied as criminal justice or computer science, our results suggest that the best place to start may be by asking what messages people in these fields are sending about how important gender is to succeed in these fields. These may not be overt messages. They may be subtle suggestions about who is in the ‘in-group’ in these majors in some instances, or they might be related to messages about innate ability as other research suggests. We need to better understand the various ways discriminatory messages are conveyed and address them in order to improve access to students regardless of their gender.”9

Alongside gender-based stereotypes, women and girls face additional obstacles in the education system. Other challenges include unfair treatment due to pregnancy or parenthood, sex-segregated programs, and bullying.

Organizations like Girl Rising are using the power of storytelling to ensure girls worldwide are educated and empowered to reach their full potential. To advocate for educational equity in NYC and learn more about this pressing issue affecting women nationally and around the globe, learn more about Girl Rising and the following NYC organizations:

While strides have been made to close the gender gap such as more opportunities for girls and women in STEM and the increase in women in leadership, the statistics show that we still have room to grow. As a result of gender bias and stereotyping, women are still dealing with discrimination in their workplaces, education, and even everyday activities. Whether it’s becoming a mentor or engaging your local community, take a stand in NYC and join the above organizations in their mission to make a positive change for women’s rights.











previous / next

Subscribe to the NYXT newsletter

Learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and new organizations looking for your help.


New Call-to-action