Guest author addresses global issue of women’s inequality

Augusto Lopez-Claros reads from his new novel, “Equality for Women=Prosperity for All,” at the University of Maryland on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Isaiah Smith/The Black Explosion)

Augusto Lopez-Claros reads from his new novel, “Equality for Women=Prosperity for All,” at the University of Maryland on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Isaiah Smith/The Black Explosion)

The Baha’i Club at the University of Maryland, concluded its semester of events Thursday evening by welcoming author Augusto Lopez-Claros to discuss the inspiration for his new novel, “Equality for Women=Prosperity for All.”

The organization aims to unite people of different identities on campus and spread a message of peace and unity.

Lopez-Claros said he co-authored the new book because of the mistreatment women receive around the world and how big the gender equality gap still is between men and women.

“Gender discrimination is a topic that is too serious not to be invested in,” Lopez-Claros said.  “Inequality among men and women prevent women from being able to fully contribute to society, whether it’s economically, socially or politically. It’s counterproductive.”

Lopez-Claros’ presentation touched on different topics, including inequality between men and women in the labor force, violence against women and how there are still very few countries in the world that make it a priority to ensure that women are fully protected the way men are.

He presented data that detailed the different countries that have specific legislation to protect women from domestic violence and discrimination in the labor force.

Among the countries that are proactive in protecting women are Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Lopez-Claros said countries like these tend to be more liberal and accepting of women contributing to society like men do.

Countries with restrictions against women include Saudi Arabia, India and Iran. According to Lopez-Claros, Iran has 23 restrictions against women such as who they can marry, whether they can go to school and what they can wear in public.

“The amount of restrictions in Iran essentially makes women second-class citizens,” Lopez-Claros said.

Violence against women is another issue that is still prevalent in many countries. Lopez-Claros noted that hundreds of thousands of women are killed every year in Spain, and violence against women in India is often disguised in the workplace.

“A group of women in India who worked in a kitchen were killed after a rigged oven exploded,” Lopez-Claros said. “The fire burned them alive, but there were no repercussions or action taken against any suspects.”

Patrick Fleming, a sophomore psychology-kinesiology double major, attended the presentation and said that while events like these are a good way to spread messages that people like Lopez-Claros are sending, it may be more effective to target areas other than large scale universities.

“I think a lot of college students already know about gender inequality in the United States and around the world,” Fleming said. “It may be more beneficial to try and spread these ideas to rural areas as well, where there are more conservative values.”

Lopez-Claros also said that when young women see their elders and peers being discriminated against in the labor force, it discourages them from trying to pursue a career of their own.

“It stops young girls from wanting to seek a higher education or a good paying job,” Lopez Claros said. “This leads to a lot of women who have so much potential being excluded or excluding themselves from contributing to the economy and society as a whole.”

Lopez-Claros concluded his presentation by reading a few pages from his novel and offering suggestions on how countries can ensure better treatment of women.

“Women need to be better represented across the world and that starts with different legislations ensuring that laws will be put into place that will help more women seek education, secure a steady job and eventually move up the professional ranks,” Lopez-Claros said.