I am looking forward to attending Susquehanna’s Women’s Leadership Symposium in Philadelphia later this week. This is one of the signature events of our Women’s Leadership Initiative.
When I am visiting alumni and friends of the University, I am sometimes asked if such an effort is anachronistic. Sadly, it is not. Although, like most universities, we enroll more women than men, we continue to see our alumnae encountering different challenges in the workplace from those of their male counterparts. We are committed to providing all our students with the tools to be successful leaders, and to accomplish that goal, we are creating necessary networking and professional-development opportunities for our female students to level the playing field.
It is my hope that our efforts will help all of our students to be advocates for gender equality around the world. There is much work to be done. These are nine leading issues affecting women around the world today as identified by Global Citizen:
1. Inequality in the workforce: In the United States, a nation that regularly declares itself a leader in equity and human rights, women are paid less than men across nearly all employment sectors. In 2015, the differential was 21% even though women began outnumbering men on college campuses in the 1980s, and in 2014 women in the U.S. surpassed men in overall academic achievement.
2. Inadequate access to education: According to UNESCO 31 million girls of primary school age are not in school.
3. Reproductive health and rights: Worldwide, 225 million women lack family planning resources.
4. Maternal Health: The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 300,000 lives are lost each year from preventable pregnancy-related causes.
5. Gender-based violence: The World Health Organization reports that 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence.
6. Child Marriage: According to the United Nations Population Fund, during this decade over 140 million girls will become child brides.
7. Female Genital Mutilation: The World Health Organization estimates that over 200 million women and girls have been victims of these practices across 30 nations.
8. Female infanticide: Globally, when left to nature, human beings have an even distribution of men and women through what is known as Fisher’s Principle. Women generally live longer, but this is balanced by a slightly higher male birthrate: 107 male births for every 100 female. When the World Bank first collected global population data by gender in 1961, the world population was within 0.09% of gender equilibrium. A gap has continued to grow since that time, so that there are now over 60,000,000 more men than women in the world. Much of this can be attributed to female infanticide in male dominated cultures.
9. Political inequality: 95% of the world’s nations have a male head of state. The 19th amendment, which finally granted U.S. women the right to vote, is now 98-years-old, and yet, until two years ago, no major party had nominated a woman to be their candidate for president.
As Susquehanna students become global citizen leaders, they will need to be champions for gender equality and gender justice. The work our alumnae and students will share at the Symposium inspires me to know they will continue to be agents of positive change.