Equal rights. Equal pay. Equal representation. Safety. Freedom to make one’s own healthcare choices.
None of these are a reality for American women today.
The U.S. Constitution, including the 14th amendment, was written by and for men. Equal pay is not a reality for women with studies showing women earn just about 80% of what men earn, with women of color earning far less.
Of 45 U.S. Presidents, all have been men. Just 24% of Congress and about 7% of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women.
And safety? Every nine seconds a woman is beaten, one in five are raped and three women per day are murdered in the United States. Laws are coming out of states in droves that limit a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and health.
Quality of life impacted? Financial wellbeing? Physical wellbeing? Emotional wellbeing? You bet. All of the above.
And that is why equality is as important as any other aspect of our health and wellbeing, for both women and men and their families.
While it might feel as though we are living in a time of chaos and confusion, there is another realm. And it’s peaceful and harmonious. It’s harder to glimpse with all the chaos, yet it brings the promise of a better, fairer, and more caring society for all.
We just elected the most diverse Congress ever as it relates to gender and race. Something truly wonderful happens as the percentage of women in leadership goes up. The focus changes. In government, we pass more legislation in total, and more legislation is passed regarding healthcare and education; the essentials each of us needs regardless of zip code.
The way that we work in the public and private sectors is more empathic, more civil and bridge-building. When women participate in peace negotiations, peace accords are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. ROI is higher for companies with women in top management positions. Outcomes are better for female physicians.
In other words, we all win.
Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Equality is what will bring peace and prosperity to more corners of the country and world, and it begins with each of us.
It is not the presence of men. It is the absence of women that holds us back. When you look at the most gender-equal countries in the world, they are the most peaceful, best on the environment, and happier.
While those of us alive today may not get to the mountaintop in our lifetime and experience total equality of gender, racial, religious, and sexual orientation, we can smile remembering the gains we have made. We are on a brighter trajectory as a result and a path that will bring us closer, reduce poverty, war, and heal our beautiful planet.
To ensure we stay on this new path, and even brighter ones to come, we must each look to see where we plug into the inequalities that keep so many under-served.
Where do you accept and allow ‘boys will be boys’ when it’s time for an adult to show up? Where do you give up your power because of gender or expect it? Change your name to his at marriage? Why is it that women are expected to give up their family name at marriage and then name their children after him? Why is it men expect it? And what does this say about how we value women?
What different expectations do you have for female leaders vs. male leaders? Are you using language that puts women down, like calling adult females “girls” (or worse) when conversely calling men “boys” only when they act like children? Allowing one more history book in your child’s classroom that doesn’t equally include the contributions of women?
No doubt it will take more than 100+ women in Washington DC to deliver equality in the United States. Fortunately, the majority of Americans put them there and there’s no turning back that kind of wave. Of course, there has been and will continue to be setbacks. They are good reminders of all that is precious to us as human beings.
While legislation will never be the entire answer, it is an important part.
The rest is up to each of us, and the choices we make every day.
Bringing greater consciousness to our lives and making choices that consistently support equality will speed things up so that girls and women one day, sooner than later, will have the same rights and opportunities as boys and men, and are safe to pursue them.
You’re invited to take Laurie’s Personal Health Assessment.