By Senator Lena C. Taylor
This world has not been easy for women. While we are responsible for bringing forth life, we have to fight constantly for the right to live our own. As we teach our children to speak up for themselves, we simultaneously battle for our own voice to be heard. Every day we work to provide for those we love, understanding that we are consistently denied equal pay for equal work.
Year after year, data from the U.S. Department of Labor bears out this reality. In 2019, women of every racial demographic made less than their white male counterpart. A woman’s worth amounts to 55, 63, 79, and 87 cents, for Hispanic, Black, white non-Hispanic, and Asian women respectively, for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic male.
However, we have learned that other attributes can contribute to worth. Education, power, race and location are just some examples. Any of these variables can impact whether you’re overlooked or included, held back or moved forward. Even though the right to vote was granted to white women in 1920, and to Black women in 1965, we have an electorate that is still not sold on the idea of a woman as president. Being a woman often means your mind, body and emotional intellect are questioned, even when your credentials are unrivaled.
And yet, in the sentiment of Maya Angelou, still we rise.
March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The words serve more as rallying cry for what is both needed and possible. It acknowledges that work is needed, domestically and internationally to address the issues facing women. Whether gender-based violence, economic security, reproductive health and rights, or gender equality, none of us are free until all of us are free. In this freedom, is healing.
As we take stock of the work that remains, we certainly have to acknowledge where we are today. In more than 20 countries, we are queens, chancellors, prime ministers, presidents and vice presidents. We are CEOs, judges, legislators, educators, medical providers, first responders and business owners. We are athletes, journalists, sportscasters and weather forecasters.
We are laborers, law enforcement, farmers and drivers. We are fighters and we rise.
However, a woman’s worth does not begin with a job, title or paycheck. It is not defined by her beauty or her partner or her relationships. Our value is self-determined and we set the rules that tell others how to treat us. In fact, one of the most powerful things in the world is a woman who knows her worth. As we celebrate the women we love, remember those that made us possible.