Today is Women's Equality Day, which sets out to celebrate the 97th anniversary of American women finally winning the right to vote in 1920. That victory came after decades of suffrage activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fighting for this basic human right.
While we would be remiss not to tip our hats to these extraordinary women and all others whose struggles brought us this far, we are now nearly 100 years down the road. So just what does all this mean today? With that question in mind, the From War to Peace team hit the streets to probe the minds of some of the best and brightest women in our lives. Here is what we found:
There is much to be done. So much in fact, that the very idea of a commemorative Women’s Equality Day is vaguely humorous - if not downright insulting - to many of the individuals it sets out to honor. The most frequent response we got from the women we spoke with was short and sweet: “why not every day?” And who can blame them? After all, available information paints an unfortunate picture of the state of gender equality in 2017.
Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, our wage gap aggressively persists; a woman is still typically paid 80 cents on average for every dollar paid to a man doing similar work. And this number has barely budged in a decade. Meanwhile, that 20 cent gap really adds up. A recent study suggests that on average, a 20-year-old female entering the workforce will lose $418,800 over a 40 year career as compared to a male counterpart. Simply put, a woman must stay on the job a decade longer than her male equivalent if she intends to earn the same amount. Race and ethnicity only serve to further widen this gap.
Just last year the American people elected a man as President who cuts one of the most appalling figures of our time: lacking anything approaching a social conscience, he is a racist, a reactionary, and a misogynist. His defeated opponent: a woman with impeccable credentials, genuine personal stability and maturity, compassion for the poor, and a real conscience. Had she won, a woman - for the first time in recorded history - would have been the most powerful person on earth. But we blinked.
Feel like celebrating Women’s Equality Day yet?
And here we find ourselves in 2017, with some progress made, but still facing serious issues and few simple solutions. So back to the question: what does all this mean today? Women today - and any decent men who make common cause with them - face an uphill battle. We must spar in corporate boardrooms and in the halls of government; we need to fight it out over kitchen tables with our families, loved ones and neighbors. We will neither forget our history nor accept the status quo.
But we are not without hope. The Women’s Marches of Jan. 21st yielded what was likely the largest series of single-day demonstrations in recorded U.S. history. That remarkable display of unity stands tall as a testament to what we can accomplish when Women lead. It was a moment to make our daughters proud. Here’s to more of them! And to every woman stepping out of your comfort zone and keeping this conversation alive… this one’s for you.