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U.S. Capital Expects Thousands Of Women To Attend 3rd Annual March

Despite the controversy, marches are planned in almost every U.S. state.

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Women's March
Kelly Duncan chants with "Gone 2020" slogan painted on her cheek as she participates in the Second Annual Women's March in Washington, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

Thousands of women are gathering in cities in the United States and around the world Saturday for the third annual Women’s March to demand gender equality and call attention to environmental concerns and immigrant rights, among other issues.

The beginning

The first Women’s March was held in 2017, the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States.

On Trump’s first full day in office, hundreds of thousands of women descended on Washington in a display of popular opposition to the new administration and its policies. Sister marches were held in more than 600 locations in the U.S. and across the globe in solidarity with the marchers in Washington.

Peter Newsham, Washington’s interim police chief at the time, said of the march in the U.S. capital, “The crowd stretches so far that there’s no room left to march.”

Women's March,
People carrying signs join hundreds of demonstrators in the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

Many of the women wore knitted pink “pussycat” hats, featuring small catlike ears, to show their solidarity with the anti-Trump sentiments and as an oblique reference to vulgar comments Trump was known to have made years before he entered politics.

Moment to movement

In 2018, organizers of the Women’s March sought to build on the first rally by focusing on politics and the power of women voters. They held the second march in Nevada, a battleground state for the midterm elections later in the year. The rally touting the message “Power to the Polls” focused on voter registration, featuring activists and members of Congress as speakers.

As in 2017, sister marches were held in cities across the U.S. and thousands of women also marched in London, Paris, Sydney and other European and Australian cities.

In 2019, the organizers are bringing the march back to Washington. Hopes were high for this year’s turnout, especially after a record 102 women were elected to the House of Representatives in the midterms at the end of last year.

Women's March
People listen to speeches at the Women’s March in opposition to the agenda and rhetoric of President Donald Trump in Washington, Jan. 21, 2017. VOA

A growing controversy

Several prominent women’s and civil rights organization are absent from the list of partners published on the Women’s March website.

Among those that had partnered with the group in the past, but missing in 2019, are civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center and the political action committee Emily’s List. By late Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee had also withdrawn its name from the list of partners.

The controversy surrounds several Women’s March leaders who have been accused of holding racist and anti-Semitic views.

Organizers have repeatedly denied all accusations of misconduct or using inappropriate speech.

The issue resurfaced when two of the march’s organizers appeared on ABC talk show The View on Monday and refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made repeated anti-Semitic and anti-white remarks.

Women's March
Eight-year-old Zoe Rodis leans on her mother Jennifer Rodis, right, during a Women’s March rally, Jan. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. VOA

When asked why she had posted a photo of Farrakhan on Instagram with a caption that included the hashtag for the title “Greatest Of All Time,” Women’s March’s co-president Tamika Mallory said, “I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric. I called him the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities.”

Mallory’s co-president, Bob Bland, denied allegations printed in The New York Times and the Jewish magazine Tablet that members of the organization had expressed anti-Semitic beliefs at a meeting behind closed doors.

“The people that the journalist spoke to did not tell the truth, period, full stop,” Bland said. “The Women’s March unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, bigotry, transphobia. … We condemn any statements of hate.”

Going forward

Some marchgoers say they are not deterred.

“The controversy has certainly influenced conversations around my decision to attend or not. Though it never was going to stop me, even more so I feel it’s important to attend,” said Naomi Zipursky of San Francisco. She will be in Washington Saturday.

Women's March
People hold an American flag during the second annual Women’s March in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

“By not showing up, I don’t even allow the conversation to begin and only create a bigger gap.”

“The thought that I, as a Jewish woman, wouldn’t be welcome or would need to leave part of my identity at the door in order to attend the march is disheartening and frankly, alienating,” Zipursky said. “(But) I also believe that what one person may say or do doesn’t necessarily represent what an entire organization may stand for.”

A separate “March for ALL Women” is planned for Saturday in the U.S. capital, with organizers rallying those who may feel the main march is divisive and not inclusive.

Many participants don’t think the marches will ever compare to the first one.

“It’s going to be very hard to pull off the momentum of the first women’s march,” said Mary Tablante, communications officer at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “I am still going (this year) because I do think they are trying to improve it. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the movement.”

Also Read: Women Living in Countries with Gender Equality have better Cognitive Test Scores: Study

Despite the controversy, marches are planned in almost every U.S. state. ABC News reports some states will hold multiple marches: California plans to have more than 30 marches, New York 15, Texas, 13 and Florida 11. Michigan will host eight and Pennsylvania seven.

Marches are also planned in more than a dozen European nations, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Israel, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa, among others. (VOA)

Next Story

Reducing Gender Inequalities in Education Sector Would Better Outcomes in Future

As for improvements on other fronts, the water and sanitation sector, for instance, faces a significant shortage of qualified professionals. While the importance of involving both men and women in management of water and sanitation facilities has for long been recognised globally, mostly men are still seen as the primary decision makers.

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office
Another sector where the share of professionals possessing AI skills is high is education, accounting for about 19 per cent of the total workforce - of which women account for just one-third of the male talent pool. However, education is also one of the few sectors where the number of women working are greater than the men. Pixabay

The benefits of diversity in the workforce are known to give companies a competitive edge and this, in turn, enables higher growth. A 2018 McKinsey & Company Report, “Delivering through Diversity”, found out that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 per cent more likely to experience financial returns above their national industry means than the companies in the fourth quartile.

While the research findings point towards positive correlation between financial performance and greater inclusion of women in leadership roles, it is essential to address the issue of gender disparity in education as this sector helps in developing professional capacities in both men and women.

As the world moves closer to covering the gender gap in education, with only 5 per cent of the gap remaining, one of the issues which mask under gender parity in education is the lower participation of both men and women which is preventing the world from fully utilising the human capital.

The Global Gender Gap Report, 2018 (WEF, 2018) points out that globally, there were on average 65 per cent girls and 66 per cent boys who were enrolled in secondary education and only about 39 per cent girls and 34 per cent boys who were participating in tertiary education. Thus, the gender gaps cannot be completely closed until the participation increases in education at all levels.

Further, to the issue of the lower overall participation, particularly in the tertiary sector, is the fact that although there are more females graduating than males globally, when it comes to the skills for the lucrative jobs, women tend to lag behind men.

education
While the research findings point towards positive correlation between financial performance and greater inclusion of women in leadership roles, it is essential to address the issue of gender disparity in education as this sector helps in developing professional capacities in both men and women. Pixabay

According to the Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review (UNESCO, 2018), in countries such as Chile, Ghana and Switzerland, women account for less than one-quarter of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees. Among the South Asian countries, India has about 42 per cent tertiary graduate females pursuing a STEM programme, which is much higher than many developed countries. The only few countries where the majority of STEM graduates are females are Algeria, Tunisia and Albania.

In the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, when the in-demand skills in the job market include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these gender gaps in STEM studies, if left unchecked, will broaden gender disparities across the industries. Currently, there is a significant gender gap among the AI professionals, with only about 22 per cent of them being female and 78 per cent being male. Regional analysis across the globe reveals that the top three countries where AI talent is the most prominent are United States, India and Germany – along with a significant gender gap in AI skills biased against women (WEF, 2018).

Industry-level workforce data for the gender gap indicates that the top three sectors where the proportion of men is much greater than women are manufacturing, energy and mining sector and software and IT services. Out of these, the third sector employs about 40 per cent of the AI professionals in total workforce, with women accounting for just 7.4 per cent of the AI talent pool. The other two sectors have a very low percentage of AI-skilled workforce.

Another sector where the share of professionals possessing AI skills is high is education, accounting for about 19 per cent of the total workforce – of which women account for just one-third of the male talent pool. However, education is also one of the few sectors where the number of women working are greater than the men.

If the current trend of male domination in STEM disciplines at the college level or in acquiring emerging skills at the workplace continues unabated, it can lead to wider gender disparities across industries due to the rising demand for the AI skills, irrespective of being a traditionally male or a traditionally female oriented sector.

Efforts towards achieving gender parity in education beyond enrolments, to take account of equality in choosing skills which are a gateway to employment opportunities, will help in creating a gender-equal workforce in the future and greater financial gains.

AI
Wider gender disparities across industries due to the rising demand for the AI skills, irrespective of being a traditionally male or a traditionally female oriented sector. Pixabay

Addressing the gender disparity issue in education not just results in financial improvements for businesses, and greater growth, but also helps in achieving better development outcomes.

For instance, in the health sector, there is a global shortage of 17.4 million healthcare workers, including 2.6 million doctors, 9 million nurses and midwives (WHO, 2016). While women form the majority of the sector’s workforce, they are primarily clustered in the lower-level positions, with senior positions being held by men.

Efforts to attract more males to nursing courses and elevating the status of care related work can help to break the feminisation of the nursing profession and address the shortage of workforce to some extent. For women to move up to senior positions amidst the rapidly digitising technology, efforts towards reskilling them can close the gender gaps in senior positions.

Also Read: To Provide Internet Connectivity in Areas With Inadequate Infrastructure, Facebook Project Uses Drones

As for improvements on other fronts, the water and sanitation sector, for instance, faces a significant shortage of qualified professionals. While the importance of involving both men and women in management of water and sanitation facilities has for long been recognised globally, mostly men are still seen as the primary decision makers.

Thus, alleviating gender inequalities in education can bring out more qualified female professionals in the decision-making roles. (IANS)