Gender Equality Starts With…

By Yumhee Park, Engagement and Mobilization Associate at National Women’s Law Center

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A staggering wage gap. Sexual assault across U.S. campuses and k-12 schools. All the glass ceilings. Clearly we have our work cut out for us when it comes to achieving gender equality. These issues are just some of the topics being covered at the United State of Women summit. Convened and masterminded by the White House, this monumental conference celebrates the strides women have made and provides a space for the leaders, shakers, and conversation starters of the nation and the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing women and girls today. For the National Women’s Law Center, we grapple with these issues every day. We’ve been championing policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every life stage for over 40 years. For us, gender equality is at the core of what we do – for some of us it starts with child care and early learning. For others, it starts with ensuring birth control access and protecting women’s rights to abortion. We asked our staff where we need to start in order to achieve gender equality. Here is what they said.

Gender equality starts with education access

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“Educational access is a key component in the fight for gender equality. But access to an education is not enough. Educational equity is our true goal. Equal opportunity ensures that girls and women not only make it into the classroom, but they stay and thrive as well.”

Gender equality starts with birth control coverage

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“Birth control coverage without out-of-pocket costs – no matter where you work or go to school – is critical for women’s economic security and autonomy. All women should be empowered to plan their families, including the decision not to have children, so they can accomplish their life goals.”

Gender equality starts with child care

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“Because women are more likely to be primary caregivers than men, women can’t unlock their full economic potential without reliable, affordable, high-quality child care while they’re at work. That’s why gender equality starts with child care.”

Gender equality starts with women of color

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“The movement for gender equality must center the voices and experiences of woman and girls of color. If we do so that will ensure that our tables are inclusive, that our policies are effective, and that we truly improve the lives of women and their families.”

Gender equality starts with economic justice

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“Despite the advancements women have made the past few decades, too many remain economically insecure. What we need is equal pay, better jobs, and an adequate safety network that would truly allow women to get ahead, not just get by.”

Gender equality starts with reproductive justice

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“Reproductive justice includes equitable access to quality health care. It also includes the autonomy to make decisions about reproductive health without barriers.”

Gender equality starts with fair work schedules

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“Unpredictable, irregular work schedules unnecessarily wreak havoc on the lives of low-wage workers, making it a struggle to maintain stable child care, pursue education to advance their careers, get needed medical care—or simply get enough hours at their jobs to make ends meet. Women are especially hurt by these unfair scheduling practices as they make up two-thirds of low-wage workers and continue to shoulder the majority of caregiving responsibilities.”

Gender equality starts with rethinking school climate and discipline

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“When girls don’t feel safe or welcome in school, it makes it harder to learn, furthers school push out, and limits career prospects and their potential for economic security. By challenging outdated sexual attitudes and disciplinary policies that are often informed by gender and racial biases, we can begin to shape classrooms where all girls and boys feel equally valued and supported in school.”

Gender equality starts with paid family leave

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“Single mothers don’t get the support they need. Roughly 72% of single mothers are in the workforce and typically earn low incomes, which means they simply cannot afford to be without paid family leave.”

Gender equality starts with inclusivity

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“Gender equality is inextricably tied to issues of race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and others. Inclusion of intersectional voices and experiences are central to advocating for gender equality for all.”

These photos highlight how these issues are all ultimately connected and integral to gender equality. While the United State of Women summit is just a couple days, it serves as one step we take today, in order to change tomorrow.