Reflecting on Women’s Equality Day: Progress, Disparities, and the Road Ahead
Marking the anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, Women’s Equality Day stands as both a significant and complex occasion. (Learn more about the racist history connected to the day here.) While it has come to symbolize progress toward women’s equality, it also serves as a poignant reminder that gender equity remains elusive across a broad spectrum of issues, especially for women of color. In 2023, gender and racial disparities persist, prompting a critical evaluation so that we may better unify and take collective action to advance gender and racial equity.
Taking Stock of the Present:
Reproductive Justice: Since the overturning of Roe V. Wade, access to basic reproductive health care has become even more tenuous as individuals across the country face criminalization and lose access to abortion care. Most recently, at-home solutions such as medication abortion are also under attack, despite being proven safe and effective. Abortion bans and restrictions have the greatest impact on those currently marginalized by economic and racial inequities, deepening gender and racial inequities throughout our country.
Economic Security and Wealth: Overall, families headed by women own just 55 cents in median wealth for every dollar owned by families headed by men. This wealth gap underscores the persistent economic disparities not only between genders but also by race/ethnicity and marital status. For example, families headed by Black women and Latinas own just 5 and 10 cents for every dollar of median wealth held by families headed by white men. Closing the gender wealth gap is not just about fairness but also about fostering economic stability, reducing poverty, and empowering individuals and communities.
Violence and Safety: Shockingly, 1 out of every 3 women has experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. When you dig even deeper into the data, trans women are four times more likely than cis women to face physical & sexual violence. These statistics underline the urgent need for comprehensive measures to ensure safety and justice for all.
Leadership Gaps: While strides have been made, women still only hold 31.7% of top executive positions across industries. In government, women make up just over a quarter (28%) of all members of the 118th Congress – the highest percentage in U.S. history, yet a number that remains far below women’s share of the overall U.S. population. While figures like these represent improvements, they highlight the ongoing challenge of achieving gender parity in leadership positions.
Women’s Equality Day and Beyond
These challenges underscore the pressing need for long-overdue change. In response to these harsh statistics and the persistent disparities they reveal, our call to action on Women’s Equality Day remains strong and unwavering. We won’t stop until we have:
- Equal access to affordable, quality reproductive healthcare and the freedom to make decisions regarding our own bodies and sexual health
- Equal opportunity to ensure economic security and self-sufficiency to provide for our futures
- Safety against gender-based violence in any and all environments and situations
- Representation by those in leadership positions, and support in holding those positions ourselves
Women’s Equality Day is an important opportunity to raise awareness of these challenges while also redoubling our commitment to dismantling the barriers that hinder the realization of gender and racial equity. On a day that historically marked progress for white women at the exclusion of women of color, we must ensure that the way forward is intersectional. We cannot achieve gender equity without racial equity and this requires dismantling entrenched systems and narratives shaped by white supremacy. Together, with your help, we can work towards a future where equity is not just a goal but a lived reality.
Curious about some of the actions WOMEN’S WAY has taken to advance the conversations around an equitable future? Check out these resources and encourage your network to join you in raising awareness this Women’s Equality Day by posting one of the below links on social media.
- Understanding the Origins of Wealth and Power – To achieve true equality for all, we must address the root of the problem: white supremacy. By doing so, we can develop concrete solutions to dismantle the systemic racism and sexism that both stem from this harmful legacy. Learn more here.
- Advancing Economic Security by Tackling the Gender Wealth Gap – Explore how the WOMEN’S WAY Gender Wealth Institute is advancing research and practical solutions to build wealth for women who are economically insecure. Learn more here.
- Reproductive Justice – Threats to bodily autonomy have an enormous impact on the economic lives, opportunities, and mobility of women. In a time where reproductive rights such as abortions are under threat, reproductive justice is as vital as ever. Learn more here.
- Intersections of Intimate Partner Violence and Economic Security – Delve into the intersection between intimate partner violence and economic security in this session of the Closing the Gender Wealth Gap forum. Learn more here.
- Leadership – Want to start making a difference with a community of like-minded peers? Take the first step by getting involved with Young Women’s Initiative at WOMEN’S WAY. Grow to be the Leader that your community needs. Learn more here.