Gender Equality and the United States of America
Sawaddee kha! My name is Kanlaya Chularattakorn. I am a Professional Fellow in the Economic Empowerment Program from Thailand.
It has been a great honor to have been selected as a Professional Fellow of the Economic Empowerment Program that is sponsored by the State Department of the U.S. Though this program is sponsored by the State Department, it is organized by the University of Montana.
Though this was not my first time to the U.S., it was the first time that I am formally coming to the U.S. to learn about American and its culture. Before joining this program, I have very little knowledge about the United States of America. The only information that I have about the U.S.A. is that it is a country of freedom meaning everyone are free to say and do whatever they want and think that it is right to them. I also perceived that the America is a country of equal opportunity regardless of sex, race, or religion.
Today, Oct 7, 2013, was the first day that our Professional fellows’ group started our class about America, its people and culture especially the matters related to economic empowerment.
What I learned today is that though men and women are getting equal opportunity to go to school and apply for same position, the real gender equality is still a long way to go as the United States of America has not yet ratified the CEDAW (Convention to Eliminate All forms of Discrimination Against Women). This has shown that gender equality is not the priority issue of the State government.
When talking about paternity leave, our guest speaker, Ms Jen Euell, Program Director of the Women’s Foundation of Montana, responded that women are entitled to a 3 month maternity leave without pay but women normally do not take long maternity leave as they are afraid of losing their jobs and also incomes. What they practice in the U.S. is that women usually accumulate their vacations and use it after they gave birth to their child. This was a big SURPRISE to me and all my Professional Fellows from Southeast Asia! We all felt that even though we are in many ways behind the U.S.A., but in terms of gender equality, we are more advanced than the U.S.
This mean, there are a lot of work to be done in the U.S. in order for the country to become a gender equality one. I really wish to see more and more American, both women and men are involving themselves in working to increase the gender equality in the U.S. so that one day, America, the world’s leader in science and technology, will also be the world’s leader that has real gender justice and gender equality so that my country can use you as our role model. I believe you can be better in making America a country of gender justice and gender equality than what you are today! Keep up the good work America!