During the fight for suffrage in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, Susan B. Anthony proclaimed that "organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry!" The same mantra continues to ring true nearly a century later as the struggle for women's equality carries on.
The month of March is Women's History Month, and Monday, March 9, is International Women's Day. This offers us the opportunity to acknowledge how far women have come in the fight for equality and how far we still have to go.
Two decades into the 21st century, our state and country still face an uphill battle in confronting and resolving the legacy of systemic barriers and injustices that women face each and every day. Whether it be overt attacks on fundamental rights like access to reproductive health care, or the less-visible, yet ubiquitous, gender pay gap, California and the nation must do better.
On average, women in the American workforce make only 81 percent of what their male equivalents earn in annual salary, and those statistics are even more disparate for women of color. Only 6 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women and, in 2018, nearly a quarter of public companies in California had no women on their board of directors. Statistics like these, and the disproportionate number of women elected to office in California, are prime examples of the types of barriers and inequities we must continue to confront and change.
While the Legislature continues its work to pursue comprehensive new protections against workplace harassment and retaliation; expand child care funding and paid family leave; and ban discriminatory gender-based pricing, the most effective advocacy and activism on women's equality issues can, and should, take place right in our own neighborhoods and communities.
One of my mentors and personal heroes, Dolores Huerta, blazed trails as a leader and advocate in the labor movement and once said that "every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world." In that spirit, I encourage Californians who want a better future for all of us to recognize that now is the time to elevate these issues and engage with our families, neighbors, and elected officials to all become allies and activists in pursuing equality for women in California, in our nation, and around the world.
For information on Women's History Month and International Women's Day, please visit internationalwomensday.com.