Happy Women's Equality Day: Don't Pop The Champagne Just Yet, There's More Work to Do
On August 18th, women celebrated the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 stating that is is unlawful for any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. Women have been enjoying the right to vote for 91 years. And today, women are celebrating Women's Equality Day, which honors not only the 1920 amendment, but also "calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality." But don't pop that champagne just yet, we haven't accomplished full equality yet.
Here's the thing, I've been thinking a lot about third wave feminism lately, which is about the freedom of choice. While many women do not identify themselves as feminist most will proudly lay claim to their right to make their own decisions, whether that be a stay at home mom or a working professional. And we all perceive this freedom as a sign of our equality in the world, US and home. However, I can't fully embrace the idea of third-wave feminism if it means women are willingly making decisions or taking actions within those decisions that set us back. The women who chooses to stay home, but allows people to make passive comments like, "you must be glad you have a spouse to support you so you can have that luxury to stay home." Turn to them and explain that your contribution to the home is just as valuable as the paycheck your partner brings home. It's about collective effort to make a home, not just the effort of the one who pays for it. And for the women who choose to be working professionals, don't sit back and allow employers to pay women and mothers less. (Women make 77 cents to every man's dollar, women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, mothers make 73 cents, and single mothers make only 60 cents to a man's dollar.) We must recognize that our individual choices have a larger effect on all of us. We can't sit on our laurels, because the bottom line is this "freedom of choice" is a smokescreen to existing inequalities.
Here's a quick breakdown of where women really stand:
- Women are 50.7% of our population, yet women comprise only 17% of Congress.
- Women make up 50% of the workforce, there are only 12 female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.
- Women make 77 cents to every man's dollar, women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, mothers make 73 cents, single mothers make only 60 cents to a man's dollar. Women of color earn even less.
So on today's Women's Equality Day, high five your fellow sisters and then ask them what are they are doing to help women's equality. By doing this we are recognizing that we still have a long way to go, and Women's Equality Day will be a bittersweet celebration until we really can say everything is 50/50. As a woman, I am bringing attention to the inequalities that exist within our marriage institution, I hope to educate women about their decisions and eradicate the obsolete traditions that stagnate women's equality in relationships.
I want to know what you are doing! Please post this to your Facebook or Twitter, state what you are doing to help women, and ask your sisters what they are doing.