Progress for women, but still more needed

It’s still hard to be a girl in many places in this world. And our very own North America, which we conside

It’s still hard to be a girl in many places in this world.

And our very own North America, which we consider to be progressive in comparison to other locales, is still a work in progress on the front of women’s rights and safety.

Several things brought this topic to mind last week.

The most obvious were the blaring headlines about U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his disgusting comments caught on tape.

This one’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

His graphic comments, dismissed by him as “locker room talk” about his ability to grab women in intimate places and kiss them without their consent are certainly vile, particularly for someone who aims to lead a country as influential as the United States.

However, the vast majority of the public response has been heartening.

Most are unconvinced by his justifications and he is rightfully facing a scrutiny here that could well have an impact on the outcome of the presidential election.

Years ago, this would not have happened. Think about it, the issue of the treatment of women could well be the decisive turning point. That’s history in the making.

The second thing that brought the topic to mind was a report from UNICEF that found that girls between five and 14 years of age spend 40 per cent more time on unpaid household chores than boys their age.

Now, that’s worldwide, and includes countries that barely make a nod towards the rights of women and girls.

But it’s worth thinking about, that women and girls in large parts of the world, even in 2016, are expected to forego education to do things like collect water and firewood — essential chores, but ones that garner them little respect, and no compensation or promise of advancement.

In some countries, these chores carry a high risk of sexual assault.

And while we can be grateful that we weren’t born in Somalia, Burkina Faso or Yemen, the three worst countries in this respect, our own country is far from perfect.

While Victoria was ranked the No. 1 best city in Canada to be a woman in a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, with high rates of women in leadership roles and the workforce, there was also the troubling finding that women are more likely to be victims of violent crime than men.

This is due to persistently high rates of sexual assault.

So, our society is making progress, but we’re not there yet.