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Susan Bulkeley Butler

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On the Path to Equality, Another Step Along the Way

Posted: 09/04/2013 12:28 pm

We just passed an historic marker on the path to equality.

Care to guess what it was?

Given the worthy attention, it's not surprising if you guessed the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

But there is another anniversary that just passed too.

August 26 was Women's Equality Day, recognizing the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was signed into law and women were granted the right to vote.

The strides we have made as women and as a society since then have been great.

Unfortunately, though, women still have a long way to go to achieve true equality -- especially in the workplace.

Women still are paid only 77 cents for every $1 a man is paid.

We still hold only about 17 percent of corporate board seats at Fortune 500 companies.

Fewer than 30 percent of businesses in our country are owned by women, according to the National Women's Business Council.

As a delegate of Vision 2020, a national initiative to advance women's economic and social equality, my dream is to raise the percentage of women in leadership roles to 50 percent by the year 2020.

It is especially fitting that the anniversary of women winning the right to vote and the anniversary of Dr. King's inspiring speech fall on the same week. The fight for racial equality is intertwined with the fight for women's equality in our country's history. And ultimately, what history teaches is that there is no racial equality and no gender equality without equality for all.

Women were inspired by the positive results of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington and other civil rights demonstrations. We were motivated by the sexism many encountered while making substantive contributions to civil rights.

In 1966, the National Organization for Women was founded. Four years later, NOW organized a national Women's Strike for Equality, demanding equal opportunities in education and employment, on August 26, 1970.

The following year, Congress passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) that designated Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day.

Vision 2020 recognizes Aug. 26 and Aug. 28 as both proud celebrations of what peaceful protest can accomplish and as pointed reminders of what is yet to be achieved.

Equality is an elusive concept.

But as Dr. King described, we all have a dream that one day will be reached.

 

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