In the midst of today's discourse on equality, it is easy to forget that a short century ago, women in the United States did not have the right to vote. It wasn't until 1920 that the ratification of the 19th Amendment breathed life into a movement that shaped political, economic and social transformation over the next century. As I write this, I can't help but marvel that while we have come a long way since the suffragists began their fight, we still have ground to cover in continuing to pave the road for future generations.
That's why Vision 2020, a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women's economic and social equality, is planning a national celebration that will bring top women leaders from across the country to Philadelphia in 2020 for the nation's 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration. Our goal is to get our country to where it needs to be by 2020.
Just last week, on April 9, we marked how long into 2013 a woman must work in order to equal the pay of what her male counterpart earned in 2012. Approximately four extra months! In 2013, women are still making 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid. This gap makes no sense and yet still persists. So, here marks our first goal as a country - to move the needle on equal pay for equal work by 2020.
How do we do this? By increasing the number of women in senior leadership positions; educating employers about the value of policies that enable men and women to fairly share family responsibilities; by educating young people about the value of gender equality; and by mobilizing women to vote.
Debates over whether women "can have it all" still dominate mainstream discussion and speak to the economic and social inequities that are deeply entrenched within our society. For example, how many board seats are occupied today in our nation's great corporations and organizations? How can we champion increasing women's representation on boards? This is an issue of senior leadership positions we can and should pay close attention to as a country - and a goal we should strive for.
There's no denying a renewed awareness and energy to advance women's equality. From the resurgence of the gender-in-leadership conversation to the 2012 presidential election, there is both momentum and a general consensus that this type of dialogue is crucial to the advancement of our society. We can seize the opportunity of the nation's upcoming 2020 centennial to keep our foot on the pedal. Ideally by then, there will be no chance that women's long road to equality will be blocked.
It's a lot to accomplish but it can be done. Anything short of 50/50 is not equality.
In 2009, Vision 2020 began its national campaign to advance American women's economic and social equality. We owe the completion of this task to women like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, suffragists who fought for women's right to vote a century ago. Join us (Drexel.edu/vision2020) and help us build an American celebration and make history for women again.