In recent history, the world has seen a lot of progress and positive strides surrounding the topic of women’s rights. From hundreds of women coming forward about their stories of sexual assault in the United States to the Saudi king passing a law giving women the right to drive, there is a clear effort to push for equality across the globe.
Earlier this month, Sri Lanka joined the movement by allowing women to purchase alcohol and work in places where alcohol is served — a law that comes nearly 40 years after women were first denied access to alcohol. The ruling received significant backlash from consumer advocacy groups, citing this act could encourage drinking. This Sunday, Sri Lanka’s president reversed the ruling, prolonging the four-decade long ban.
Comprised almost entirely of a Buddhist clergy in the government, Sri Lanka’s religious and cultural traditions do not permit women to drink alcohol. And this is a law many women abide by. However, reinstating the law that allows women to purchase alcohol and to work in places where alcohol is served would be beneficial for the country. This step is obviously not going to solve issues of gender inequality in all of South Asia, but it would certainly have an impact on women and the jobs that will be available to them. In other words, such a law would provide more opportunities for female employment.
In Sri Lanka, nearly 1.2 million households are run by the women of the family, which is a factor that decreases the size of the country’s workforce. In fact, a study by the World Economic Forum, the Global Gender Gap report, shows that the gender gap in Sri Lanka widened in 2017. It’s important to incentivize women, and it’s empowering to give them something that they can work toward. A bill that allows for this is just one way that women could feel like they will be able to provide something valuable and contribute to the workplace.
With more nations moving toward gender equality, it is important to ask why the United States hasn’t been putting in the same effort for the women back home. Compared to other countries, the United States ranks 45th worldwide in gender equality. In the modern climate, we need to understand that this is not just a problem for other countries, but something that we, as a global community, need to deal with together. A study conducted by UN Women found that “when more women work, economies grow.” In order to increase the income capital and grow the economy, both genders should be given equal opportunities to work and get paid.
Overall, it is powerful to know that even some of the most conservative countries have come forward to change the spectrum regarding women’s rights, but it is vital to understand that for real change to occur, everyone needs to support the idea that women deserve the same rights as men. Women everywhere are being denied their basic human rights, so wouldn’t it be incredible if we could feel progression together? After all, the movement for gender equality is a domino effect. Empowered women empower other women.