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Women's Progress Hasn't Gone Far Enough: Youth Media Opinion

Woman holding her thumbs up, smiling
Ian Thunder
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Janelle Olisea is a student at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which in practice granted mostly white women the right to vote. For our Youth Media program, Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology student Janelle Olisea has this opinion piece on the state of women’s progress nowadays.

We pride ourselves on the improvement and steps we’ve taken for women to actually be seen as equal to men. But in the past 100 years, how many women have been president? How many stories have we heard of women working in a fair environment with no problems with their superiors and colleagues? How many women have not been ashamed to speak out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault? How many women aren’t told they were “asking for it?” How many women were nominated in the Best Director category at the Academy Awards this year?

Sexism has existed in society since the beginning of time, and while we have made significant progress, there is still a long way to go. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by Pew Research Center, 42% of women face discrimination at work because of their gender. While the Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it a federal law for employers to equally pay their employees for the same job, regardless of gender, it still hasn’t fully closed the wage gap between women and men. In the U.S., a woman makes about 80.7 cents for every dollar a man makes. After benchmarking 153 countries on their progress towards gender equality, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 report predicts that it will take another 99.5 years to close the gender gap.

As a young Filipino girl, it is hard for me to feel represented in today’s society. There simply aren't a lot of people in the media that look the way I do. It is something that I have struggled with growing up because it didn’t feel like I could relate to anyone, nor did it feel like I had the power to be someone. However, seeing strong, confident and intelligent women who are given the platform to speak for the voiceless, makes me feel like there is hope.

I personally admire Angelina Jolie. Not only does she embody action roles that are typically played by men, but she also uses her platform as an A-list celebrity to bring attention to social and political issues, such as ending sexual violence in war zones. Her ability to speak out for the voiceless brings inspiration to millions around the world.

A quote I believe we should all live by comes from the famous feminist speech “Ain’t I a Woman.” In it, African American abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth says: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!”

This quote continues to make me feel like I have the power to make a difference in the world, and I should be proud of the fact that I am a woman.

Instead of the toxic masculine culture we have all grown accustomed to, we should focus on giving women the seat at the table they so rightfully deserve. A woman’s influence on society can last a lifetime.

Janelle Olisea is a student at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno and a reporter for our youth media program, a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists. Since the start of the pandemic, the program has met remotely in order to observe social distancing recommendations by local and national health experts.

Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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