We, as women, have historically come a long way. Yet, there are still great gender disparities in our governments and workplaces – most notably seen in the media, boardrooms, sports coverage, health and wealth. As International Women's Day returns this Sunday, March 8, we're taking a moment to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as making a call to action for accelerating equality.
This year's 2020 campaign theme #EachforEqual emphasizes "Collective Individualism" – the notion that every single one of us has the ability to challenge stereotypes, resist biases, expand perceptions and inspire progress; and that our individual mindsets, conversations and behaviors have the power to impact society as a whole. #EachforEqual empowers us to honor everyone as equals and model right action in our homes and interactions. Collective mobility and shared responsibility is key. Since gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive, join us this year as we come together to inspire change, prosperity, balance and a more amicable world.8
In the American job force, the gender wage gap has narrowed, and sex segregation has declined. Women make up 50.8 percent of the total population.1 We earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master's degrees.2 We hold 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, contribute $7.6 trillion to GDP, and 42 percent of women are sole or primary breadwinners in their families.3,4
More than ever, women are becoming business owners. There are 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the US. This number becomes even more astounding when you consider that there were only 402,000 women-owned businesses in 1972.7 And businesses run by women produce $1.8 trillion a year.8 In fact, successful women entrepreneurs are not only matching their male counterparts – in several ways – they’re also outperforming them.5
Each year, women rise in the workforce, as seen in Forbes' Power Rising: There are the Women to Watch in 2020 and Lessons From The 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies. However, we still only hold 6 percent, 30 out of 500, CEO positions and 14.6 percent of executive positions within the Fortune 500. Female-led businesses make up a mere 30 percent of companies around the world, and not one country has achieved gender equality.6
The economic empowerment of women is one of the most extraordinary revolutions. Due to the amount of change that’s transpired over time, millions of women who were once dependent upon men for their livelihood have taken control of their own financial positions. But getting women into leadership roles is key to continuing this evolution and breaking social norms and stereotypes. The task before us is to educate others about long-held assumptions of masculine vs. feminine qualities, challenge existing (inequitable) power dynamics, raise our children with equal ideologies and teach them to be advocates. We need more female role models to encourage the next generation of women to empower themselves, live a rewarding life and make a difference.
A world that includes more women leaders would be a more balanced world, and it’s up to us to create the change. #beautyofchange
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." – Gloria Steinman