Eighty-seven years ago, on August 26, 1920, women finally won the right to vote in the United States. Each year we commemorate this pivotal date for women, hailing it as Women’s Equality Day.
Thanks to the leadership of great women who have organized, demanded change, and fought for their rights, today’s women have more opportunities than ever in education and employment, more economic freedom and reproductive options, and a better future for themselves and their families. But many of those gains are threatened.
So in celebrating Women’s Equality Day 2007, we should pause and ask, “Is this what equality looks like?”
On average, women still only make $.77 for every dollar a man makes; for women of color the number is even lower. The boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies are still overwhelmingly male. Working women have no guaranteed medical leave for childbirth, and are often discriminated against in promotions and salary.
A woman’s right to safe, accessible, legal abortion is threatened as never before — as is the availability of birth control and family planning services. One in six U.S. women is a victim of sexual assault, and for many women violence is a part of their daily lives.
Although the proportion of women in elected office is growing, we’re still a far cry from parity in policymaking roles. Women make up just 16 percent of our representatives in Congress, 18 percent of governors, and only 23.5 percent of state legislators across the country.
The suffragists endured ridicule, ostracism, abuse and imprisonment, and their steely determination sets an example for all of us who continue to work toward equality for ourselves and our daughters. Until women earn the same wages as men; until we are in charge of our own reproductive lives; until racism and sexism and violence are eradicated; until we have overcome discrimination and bigotry; until women are included in the U.S. Constitution … we will keep working for equality and justice.