Women have been working for equality in this country since the beginning. Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, in March 1776 while he was drafting the US Constitution, asking him to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands." Unfortunately, Mr. Adams thought the comment was a passing note, not the beginning of a feminist movement for gender parity.
True gender equality encompasses equal treatment and access on all fronts: economically, politically and personally. While I see us on the winning side of history, gaining this equality has had starts and stops throughout history.
It would be another 144 years after Abigail's letter for women, white women, to win the right to vote; and another 43 years before ALL women had the legal right to vote. Over the years we have made significant economic gains, but the gains are not even and they are not enough. In 2020 women made up a full 50% of the US workforce, yet only earned $.78 for every dollar our male counter partner made, $.62 for Black women and $.54 for Latinx women.
Today, as women are leaving the workforce in unprecedented numbers and jobs are disappearing in fields where women represent the majority, it is time for women to come together and support one another. Over 2 million women have left the workforce in the past 12 months. Four times the number of displaced men. We must come together to ensure the hard-fought gains toward equality are not lost and use this moment to propel women to more access, more options and more equity. It is imperative that women unite and leverage the power that we hold over the economic and political systems that are in place today.
Women make 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions. If we unite that purchasing power to intentionally support women-owned businesses, we would see immediate positive impacts that would enable women to build economic strength and the economic platform they need support themselves and their families.
We also need to come together and push for government actions that promote policies to support family friendly work environments. If the pandemic has shown us anything about work, it’s that many jobs can be done outside of a 9-5, in-person environment – a system developed by Henry Ford in 1914! We also need investments in child and eldercare systems where women dominate the workforce – and bear the brunt of the responsibilities at home. Simultaneously, we must push policies that enhance the quality and availability of education and healthcare for all.
Effective teamwork requires members to play different roles with different skills – with each team member working together for the win. Women in this country are beautifully diverse and bring different skills and abilities to the field. Achieving gender equity will enable us to hold on to and celebrate that diversity.
I challenge you to think about your role in pushing for gender parity. Where do you fit into the team? Are you looking for a team to join? And then let’s work together for the WIN and celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 with hope for even more to celebrate in the years to come.