On Sunday, March 8th, we will celebrate International Women’s Day. For over 100 years, groups around the world have united in celebrating the many achievements of women. A unifying, non-partisan event, International Women’s Day is a day for action in bringing awareness to a gender equal world.
In fact, the theme in 2020 is #EachForEqual.
I have spent a good deal of time over the last several years thinking about what gender equality means to me. As the mother of a son and a daughter, it’s important to me to raise both children to challenge stereotypes and biases and to see one another as equals. Yet, I know I am raising children in a world where many disparities exist.
The Gender Gap
The reality is that nation-wide, women are at a disadvantage to men when it comes to wage-earnings and self-sufficiency. According to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, women in Colorado aged 16 and older who work full-time, year-round have median annual earnings of $43,000. That’s 86 cents on the dollar compared with men who work full-time, year-round. Even more troubling is that Hispanic women in Colorado earn just 54 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
A quick Google search will populate dozens of other statistics about gender equality:
- Women represent only 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 firms
- Women spend 67 percent more time on “unpaid care” work (think child-care, house cleaning, etc.) than men
- The US ranks 98th out of 149 countries, measured in representation of women in our political institutions
- Some experts expect it to take 208 (!) years to achieve true gender equality in the US
Now, I know that this is some pretty heavy stuff for a day all about celebrating women, but I think it’s important for us to understand why International Women’s Day is so important. If we are going to move the needle for gender equality, we must be armed with the facts. I also believe that it’s not enough to focus on gender equality for just one day – it’s a conscious decision I make daily.
How I Support Women Throughout the Year:
I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some women-led initiatives. Most recently I have joined the Women’s Leadership Council for my employer. In a highly male-dominated field (engineering), a group of women has come together to start some tough conversations and build programs that will allow women’s voices to be heard – but, will also allow the men in the organization an opportunity to benefit. If your place of work doesn’t have a women’s leadership group, consider starting one!
I have sought out strong women in the community to use as a sounding board. Having mentors who have broken the glass ceiling gives me faith that gender equality is more attainable than we think. I also mentor others. I nominate young women in town for professional awards and ensure that others are aware of the impact the next generation of women has on our community. Is there a woman in your life who is worthy of some recognition?
I give to organizations that support women. Sometimes, I give my time and sometimes I give financially. I have found organizations that support the empowerment of women and girls. National organizations can have a huge impact on gender equality, but in order to scale their operations and provide resources and programs to others, they have to raise funds. For many women, access to these programs wouldn’t be possible without financial support. If you are able, consider giving.
If you are interested in learning more, or finding out how you can get involved, check out some of these resources:
- International Women’s Day – internationalwomensday.com
- The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – WFCO.org
- Equality Can’t Wait – EqualityCantWait.evoke.org
- ACLU – aclu.org
- UN Women –unwomen.org