Press for Progress

250px-We_Can_Do_It!

While we were driving home this evening the DJ gave a shout out to “all the women out there” for International Women’s Day. My 7-year old son was in the car and wanted to know if there was a Men’s Day. I told him no and he wanted to know why. I tried to keep it simple and explain that sometimes women are treated differently than men, so it’s a day of celebration in our honor. When we got home I looked up the background, curious to know more. I learned that the first observance, called “National Women’s Day,” took place in the year 1909, though there are some claims that date its origin to 1857. The following year German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual Women’s Day, and delegates agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women. Hence began the tradition of coming together on one day to honor women at large.

I found it surprising the holiday dated back that far. I guess I shouldn’t considering the inequities that have plagued women since the early 1900s (and before). It makes me proud they took a stand to fight issues like suffrage and equal rights. But still, I have mixed emotions about this day. On the one hand, I love the idea of celebrating how far we’ve come and the notion of female empowerment. On the other, we still have so much further to go. The whole #metoo movement shines a light on the issues that are prevalent in the workplace and in our society. It’s 2018 and there’s still a gender pay gap, sexual harassment, and violence against women. And I just read findings from the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report claiming that gender parity is over 200 years away. 200 years! How is it possible the gender gap is widening?

It’s very disheartening and my first thought was I hope to see the day when we no longer have IWD. The fact that we need a holiday to celebrate women speaks to the injustice we still face. So by doing away with it means we will have finally achieved equality. But when I really thought about it I decided that isn’t the answer. Not only is it important to celebrate women, but it’s important to remember all those who came before us and all those who continue to fight the battle. From everyday women to the rainmakers, each of us is important and each of us makes a difference.

When I was in junior high we had an off-site workshop that I would equate to today’s social emotional learning curriculum. I remember they kicked it off by having one person clap their hands together. Then the instructor asked someone else to join in, and another person, until the entire room broke out in thunderous applause. The point: the impact was quiet with only individual, but together, the noise was deafening. If we stand together, we can make change.

I recognize it’s an uphill battle, but that doesn’t diminish the progress we’ve made. I always tell my daughter she can be anything she wants to be as long as she works hard. And I believe that to be true. I’d love to see a female president in this lifetime, and I hope we’re not too far off. Oprah 2020? Speaking of strong women, I chose the image of Rosie the Riveter for this post because she is the iconic figure of a strong working woman. She rallied female workers during World War II, and even today she’s still relevant. Did you know the “We Can Do It” poster is one of the ten most-requested images at the National Archives and Records Administration? Perhaps because it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come.

I wanted to end with a quote. The author is unknown but I found the message inspirational.

strong women

Here’s to all the strong women out there!

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