Year of the Woman….again?

We’ve been hearing it a lot lately. 2018 the Year of the Woman! It got me to thinking…Wasn’t last year Year of the Woman? And I swear in my lifetime, I’ve heard this before. Don’t get me wrong or misunderstand. I’m all about us getting the spotlight and recognition. But it really got me to wondering, what kind of impact does it have. Is it making a difference or is it just something fun to claim? So I did a little bit of research.

 

1975 – International Women’s Year

Granted, we have been fighting for women’s equality since the 1700’s, the first real mention of Year of the Woman was in 1975. The United Nations declared it ‘International Women’s Year’ and held their first ever World Conference on Women in Mexico City where issues on women’s equality were discussed and several follow up conferences were held around the world.

 

Time magazine’s 1975 cover highlighted women and wrote “enough U.S. women have so deliberately taken possession of their lives that the event is spiritually equivalent to the discovery of a new continent.”

 

Did it have an impact?

  • 1975 – Supreme Court denies states the right to exclude women from juries.
  • 1978 – Pregnancy Discrimination act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women.
  • 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman to serve on US Supreme Court. US Supreme Court rules that is constitutional to exclude women from the draft. In another case, Supreme Court overturns states laws designating husbands ‘head and master’ over property jointly owned with his wife.
  • 1982 – Equal Rights Amendment fails to be ratified as part of the Constitution.
  • 1983 – Sally Ride becomes first American woman into space.
  • 1984 – Mississippi finally ratifies the 19th Amendment
  • 1988 – Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which legally ended financial discrimination against women-owned businesses. Prior to the legislation, many states required females to have a male signature on business loans.

 

1992 – Year of the Woman

We have another ‘Year of the Woman’ in 1992 after a record number of new women ran and were elected to Congress than ever before. This coming on the heels of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. Nationally, 11 women won major party nominations for Senate races while 106 women contended for House seats in the general election. 24 new women won election to the U.S. House of Representatives  making them the largest number elected to the House in any single election, and the three women elected to the Senate tripled the number of women in that chamber.

What was the impact?

  • 1994 – The Violence Against Women Act funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence and allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes.
  • 1997 – Madeleine Albright become the first female secretary of state.
  • 2000 – Supreme Court invalidates those portions of the Violence Against Women Act permitting victims of rape, domestic violence, etc. to sue their attackers in federal court.
  • 2005 – Women make up almost half of America’s labor force, yet only eight Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs or presidents, and 67 of those 500 companies don’t have any women corporate officers.
  • 2007 – Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female speaker of the House.
  • 2009 – The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act allows victims, usually women, of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck.
  • 2012 – The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to fight gender discrimination in the workplace, fails in the Senate on a party-line vote. Two years later, Republicans filibuster the bill (twice).
  • 2015 – women make up 5% of CEOs in the nation’s Fortune 500 companies (a drop from 2005) and 17% of the corporate board members among Fortune 500 companies.

 

2017 – Unexpected Year of the Woman

With Trump’s election, 2017 was named the Unexpected Year of the Woman. Last year we saw the largest women’s march, the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns with men and companies being held accountable for their actions (or inactions) and a surge of women who ran for office and won.

 

Are we having an impact?

When you compare the changes and advancements between 1975 – 1992 and then 1992 – 2017, it feels like we have ebbs and flows. We make some gains. Some great gains. It’s like we assume things are going to continue to improve when instead they stagnate only to have us get fed up again and roar forward. It seems like we keep fighting the same fights. Take the Equal Pay Act which was passed in 1963 and yet we’re still fighting for equal pay in 2018.

I think what this teaches us is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to remain vigilant and constant. Great gains have been made for sure but there is still work to be done.

  • True fair pay and equal opportunity for all women.
  • Our rights guaranteed and protected under the US Constitution. Part of me wonders how many of the fights we keep battling would end if the Equal Rights Amendment were passed and ratified.
  • Women owning the table not just having a seat at it.

What are your thoughts? What actions do you want to make to create lasting change?