(Feature):”Fearless Girl” staring on Wall Street bull calls for gender equality

NEW YORK-- A bronze statue of a small girl, fists on her hips, staring down the famous 7,000-pound Charging Bull statue on Wall Street, has made headlines on and off line and many viewed it as a powerful call for gender equality in the United States and around the world.

The "Fearless Girl" quickly became a hot topic on social media after it was installed in the tourist iconic street by an asset management company a day ahead of the International Women's Day on Wednesday. The statue already has its own Wikipedia page and there are already celebrity women calling for it to remain in Lower Manhattan beyond its one-week permit.

The State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) said the statue is part of its call on the more than 3,500 companies that benefit from its clients' investments to make sure their governing boards are diverse. The Boston-based company has been a vocal advocate for gender diversity at companies.

Thousands of New Yorkers staged strikes, rallies and marches on Wednesday to spotlight worsening gender inequality in the country.

At least 2,000 people gathered around noon at the southeast corner of Central Park at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, not far from the Trump International Hotel, in downtown New York.

"I am concerned about women's heath care, protection of women from discrimination, sex abuse and violence, these are the fundamental things I would like to see our society improve on," Claire Mccue told Xinhua at the rally.

She said today's event is a continuation of the January march she attended in Washington.

"Showing up is really important. We are sending the message that we are still fighting, and resisting. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, not only for me, but for the generation of my daughter," Mccue said.

A young woman, carrying a banner "the rise of women = the rise of nation", said she came out just to remind people of the huge pay gap between men and women in the United States.

"I used to make only about 70 cents to the dollar my male colleagues make," said the accountant, who asked not to be named. "I aggressively asked for a raise and I got it."

The U.S. is placed 45th in 144 countries, down from 28th in 2015, in the World Economic Forum's annual Global Gender Gap Report released in October 2016.

"Our reproductive rights are being threatened," said Adima Klein. "Say, we do not have paid maternity leave."

A New York woman has to file for short-term "disability" leave when she is pregnant under certain state laws and private sector employer's insurance policies, Klein said. "Being a mom is being disability, it's very upsetting. I just worry it is getting more alarming day by day with a right wing government in place."

A typical post-birth disability period that is prescribed is 6 weeks for a normal delivery and 8 weeks for a C-section birth, according to Fairygodboss.com, a website which allows women to anonymously post information about their workplace. The maximum benefit anyone can receive under NY state disability benefits is 26 weeks in any 52 week period.

The U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not ensure any paid time off for new moms, said a report from the International Labor Organization.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, women working at companies with at least 50 employees must be allowed to take 12 weeks off work following the birth of their child, but that time does not have to be paid.

The U.S. refuses to support any health programs that incorporate abortion care, Refinery29, an American fashion and beauty website reported, as many countries have liberalized their abortion laws over the past 20 years.

Politicians in statehouses across the country continued to attack women's access to vital health care services in 2015, introducing nearly 400 bills and enacting 47 new laws restricting access to reproductive health care, said the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization that advocates for access to abortion in its report "2015 State of the States: Fighting Back by Pushing Forward."

"There is a segment in the society that thinks women do not equal man, it is fundamentally wrong," said Greg, in his 50s. "Without women, there is no life, you have to have both parts of society, you have to have every sector of society to work in peace and harmony."

He believed that like women's march in 1960s and 1970s which created foundations for the equality movement, the rallies and marches will "help make a change" in gender equality in the United States.

"We have to build on that foundation to move forward, we cannot put it back to the closet. Everybody deserves equality." Greg said."I have been fighting for it for 30 years, we have to stand up for the equality for all."

Source: Philippines News Agency

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