"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!"
-Sojourner Truth, Activist
I'm a mother of both a girl and a boy. When I envision a better world, I envision it for both of them. I want them to have equal opportunity, equal access, and equal pay. I want both of them to live in a world where they each have role models, where their ability to succeed is based on their own drive and hard work, where neither is held back by gender, skin color, religion, or sexual orientation.
But let's be honest here, if things continue as they are, my son will have far greater chances at success than my daughter. As of 2015, only 5% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women. Only 7% of U.S. Senators and 11% of Representatives were women. And although the number of women who own small businesses is growing, it was still only 29%. According to a report by the AAUW, we may not reach pay equity until 2152. The statistics are even worse for female minorities. So, although we are claiming our place at the table at an increasing rate, we are still far from being equal partners with our male counterparts.
Realities such as these are unacceptable to me. My daughter is strong, smart, dedicated, and motivated. She deserves to succeed or fail by the same standards as her brother, and her gender, frankly, should not be a part of the equation. As her mother, I feel like it's my duty to go to bat for her, to do whatever is within my power to help her achieve her dreams.
But should I leave my son behind? Should I say to him that his kind has achieved enough already, it's time for him to sit this one out? Should I tell him and my husband to go to the back of the bus, stand at the back of the line, be happy with the leftovers from my daughter and me? Of course not. That's not equality. That's just perpetuating more discrimination. Equality is only equality when it exists for all people.
My own particular truth, however, is that I've been letting men speak and do for me for most of my life. While I have strong opinions and a desire for great change, I have taken very little action toward that end. I'm not sure why, apathy or fear perhaps. But either way, it appears that my bluf is being called. It's time, right now, for me to gather my courage and my will and begin charting a way foward for both of my children, for all children. It's time for this powerful woman to get things right side up again.