Equality in all feasible applications seems like a very basic and easily agreed upon component of any developed society. Indeed, if you ask most people if they believe in equality, you can most likely expect a universal yes. Gender equality, in particular, is a matter that many people seem to believe has been long since resolved. Women can vote now, after all, can’t they? And certainly, no one still expects them to keep to the kitchen with nothing but a baby in their belly and a good roast recipe pressed prominently in their mind. Empowering women is about more than eliminating laws that are obviously wrong. It’s even more than changing attitudes that are clearly harmful. It is about true, literal equality that ensures women and men alike are considered in regards to their qualifications and not their sex. It is about ensuring that women are given entire and autonomous control over their bodies and their sexuality without the input or contact of men. We all know about the pay gap, and recent history has also revealed that women are very clearly still be treated as objects by men of power. Today we will examine a few pressing issues in the world of gender equality, and see what can be done to further empower women. First, the truth about the Pay Gap:There exists (for whatever reason) a very vocal minority of people that are prone to speaking out against feminist work. These people maintain that efforts to achieve gender equality are wasteful at best, as the matter was resolved with the first wave feminist movement, and then tweaked to mixed results by the second wave feminist movement. One of the first things that these people will criticize is the so-called myth of the pay gap. The “myth” of the pay gap, as most people understand it, is that women make seventy-five cents to every dollar that a man makes—meaning that if a woman is employed as a bank branch manager, she will be making only three fourths of what her male equivalent is bringing home. This actually is not exactly true. Critics of the feminist movement are right in that regard. Women make three fourths of what men make on average, meaning if you add up every dollar that a man makes and put that sum into one group, then add up everything that every woman makes and put that sum in a second group, the women’s total will be roughly 3/4th’s that of the men’s group. In other words, women are not generally paid less for doing the same work as men. For the critic of feminist efforts, this information seems to be enough of a reason dismiss the matter of gender equality entirely. Women have been empowered enough, thank you very much.However, the larger question remains: Why is it that women are getting jobs that pay less than men? Is it because they work less than men? Given fewer opportunities? The answer seems to be a combination of both factors. Women do on average take more time off from work than men, though this is usually in order to attend to familial responsibilities such as maternity leave and child care. For the former reason, it seems people are fairly split on what should be done. There is a vocal contingency of people that feel maternity leave should be always and automatically covered financially by the employer while others are more open to it being a matter that is left up to the free market to decide. It is in regards to the latter matter that we encounter what seems to be a clear case of gender inequality. Just why is it that women are encountering fewer opportunities than men? It seems to come down to a combination of factors. Education, societal expectations, and perhaps even bias in the case of certain potential employers. What it most likely comes down to is societal expectations that manifest themselves in the way that women educate themselves, and ultimately in they way that they are eventually employed. Women are encouraged to be nurses while men are encouraged to be doctors. The extent to which this is true is certainly on the decline, but it is nevertheless a prevalent factor in why women make less than men. In order to bridge the pay gap and continue to empower women, we must change the way that we think: women are just as capable of men at handling high power career positions and familial responsibilities are as much a matter for fathers to handle as they are for mothers. Women as Objects:In addition to women being deprived of opportunity, we also frequently encounter women being treated as objects. These mistreatments can be as discreet as an uninvited glance, or as blatant and horrible as a physical or sexual assault. Matters of this nature have factored heavily in the news cycles of late, with high-powered individuals such as Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K being accused of sexual assault or misconduct. So, what’s happening here? Have high powered men very suddenly taken to misusing their positions in the pursuit of sexual conquest? No. Of course not. Men have leveraged power for sex (consensual or not) for as long as can be recalled. While this sudden outpouring of sexual assault allegations feels like a bad thing (though that it happened at all is abhorrent), it is actually a firm step in the right direction. That the sexual misconduct has occurred at all is, of course, an unforgivable travesty, and a heart wrenching tragedy but that it is finally being acknowledged and called to the public eye is without question a sign of progress. It is ultimately the responsibility of men to stop seeing women as objects. The matter is as simple as treating people with humanity. In the meantime, we as a society must also create a safe space for women to continue to speak out about vile or otherwise threatening experiences that they have been subjected to.Conclusion:The path to the empowerment of women has been disappointingly slow and incremental but that is not to say that progress has not been made at all. From the women’s suffrage movement all the way to the modern day feminist, there have always been people brave enough and strong enough to stand up for what is right. Our job now is to make sure that these strong women are heard and taken seriously.