Why Women’s Equality is Still Crucial to Recognize & Celebrate
Last Updated: 23 Aug 2021
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Where are we now in terms of women’s equality and why is it important to keep fighting?
Did you know August 26th is Women’s Equality Day? Since 1973, the U.S. Congress has recognized this date as a celebration and commemoration of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920. And even though this historic date was over 100 years ago, Women’s Equality Day is not only a celebration of a past victory, it’s a call for our society to continue working towards full equality across the spectrum.
Simply put, granting women the right to vote was not the end of the story. It was just the beginning—a fundamental first step that continues to pave the way for many more. Soon after, in 1923, the first version of an Equal Rights Amendment was introduced (though it still, to this day, has not been passed). In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, promising equitable wages for the same work, regardless of the race, color, religion, national origin, or sex of the worker.
While these are amazing promises, women are still fighting to see the realities come to life.
But where are we now in terms of women’s equality? And why is it important to keep fighting? Let’s take a look.
1. The gender wage gap is still wide in the U.S.
Think the pay gap is a thing of the past in the United States? Think again. According to a 2018 report by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the average earnings of all women who work full time, year round is 80.5 percent of men who work full time, year round. This adds up to total wage differences of more than $799 billion annually, despite the fact that women are nearly half of all currently employed workers.
The study also noted that, “Women’s earnings are critical to families’ financial well-being” as women are more likely than men to be single heads of households raising children. We’ve seen this to be true firsthand through our work with women and families experiencing homelessness at the Fairweather Family Lodge. The women we work with are usually solely responsible for supporting their families, a burden that can place a great toll on a single parent. However, we are always inspired by the way they take the tools we provide (job and life skills training, housing, child care, etc) to create better lives for themselves and their children. Read a few of their amazing stories here!
2. The pandemic didn’t help matters much.
Though gender equality numbers do tend to fluctuate up and down over the years, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a definite downward trend. Dubbed by some as a “she-cession,” the worldwide economic impacts of the pandemic had a hugely disproportionate effect on women.
Thanks to school closings, layoffs, and more, The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report estimates that the global effects of the pandemic have set women back many years…36, to be exact. Whereas the previous Global Gender Gap Report, which predicted it would take 99.5 years to close the gender gap, 2020’s report grew to 135.6 years. Women were affected more by industry shutdowns, and many were forced to give up work to homeschool kids who were previously spending days at school.
At the Fairweather Family Lodge, challenges our residents faced during the quarantine included, “lack of daycare, loss or reduction of work hours, having to be the teacher for their children, and having their weekdays and weekends blend together,” according to Lodge Coordinator Martha Perez. She also mentioned that the “moms were not able to take a break during this time, and stress levels began to increase.”
3. The situation is more dire for women of color.
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women of color in the United States experience the nation’s gender wage gap most severely.
Whereas white, non-Hispanic women are typically paid just 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Latinas are typically paid just 55 cents, Native American women are paid just 60 cents, and Black women are typically paid just 63 cents.
During the pandemic, Black and Latino moms were especially impacted, accounting for about half of the total decrease in the female labor force, even though they represent less than one-third of it, according to the Pew Research Center.
Celebrate Women’s Equality Day
Our country has come a long way since its inception towards equality for all, and the efforts still continue! On Women’s Equality Day, take some time to celebrate the progress and help make a step towards continued progress.
Whether you’re determined to make a change through raising awareness on social media, donating to women in need (like the amazing women at the Fairweather Family Lodge), or talking to your friends and family, every bit counts.
About The Fairweather Family Lodge
At the Fairweather Family Lodge, Endeavors® provides permanent supportive housing, case management, professional counseling, life skills training, and employment opportunities for chronically homeless women in San Antonio with disabilities and their children so that they can achieve a life full of stability, success, and self-sufficiency in an apartment-style campus.
Endeavors is a San Antonio nonprofit that serves vulnerable people in crisis through our innovative, personalized approach. Established in 1977, Endeavors’ Housing Program is its longest-running initiative. Its goal is to provide permanent supportive housing to female veterans, as well as individuals and families with mental illness and/or disabilities. Our Housing Services programs are located in San Antonio, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina.