By Lynn Yeakel
On August 26, 1920 – 91 years ago tomorrow – women’s right-to-vote became law with ratification of the 19th amendment. Unfortunately, “Equality Day” is tucked away in the caboose of the August calendar, diminishing its chances of competing for attention with vacations and back-to-school sales.
And have we actually achieved equality? When the sun goes down today, the distance between men’s and women’s access to significant decision-making will remain. The gap continues. We’re talking Grand Canyon dimensions here.
Vision 2020 has given itself 3000 days to do something about that.
Vision 2020 is a nationwide assembly of women—and men—who believe that it’s just solid sense for men and women to begin sharing leadership in all parts of American life, so that an unprecedented dimension of positive change can emerge.
With its eye on the Year 2020– the centennial of women’s suffrage, Vision 2020 is working with women in all 50 states to play catch-up in areas of equality that have been glaringly neglected.
We seek no rivalry with men, only cooperation; no political edge in Washington, only participation; no retreat from obligation, only a fair shot at opportunity.
In October, 2010, Vision 2020 kicked off in Philadelphia with delegates from 50 states who collectively identified five national goals. Consider the first goal: Achieve pay equity, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America.
Women of a certain age nod wryly when hearing “equal pay for equal work” because for years, it has been well-documented that women earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man. But their daughters and granddaughters are furious.
“I found out that we make roughly a little more than three-quarters of what men make! And the more successful we become, the higher we rise, the more the gap widens,” writes Caitlin, a college senior who interned with Vision 2020. “It is almost as if we are being punished for success.”
The second goal is Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect the workforce talent pool and demographics. Kari, another intern who’ll join the workforce next spring, writes: “There are 29 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 that are all male in their company’s decision-making roles. There are no women on their board of directors, as well as no women among the top five highest-paid officers. This statistic was so shocking to me.”
You can hear the outrage. Vision 2020 is an opportunity to combine the younger generation’s righteous energy and older generations’ experience to make these 5 goals — pay equality, shared leadership, workplace fairness, educational balance and voter mobilization — a reality. It can happen – at the grassroots level, in the board room, and in the voting booth. Our 2011 convention will be Oct. 11-13 in Chicago, IL, the state that first ratified the 19th amendment.
What can you do? Get involved. Go to drexel.edu/vision2020. Sign up as a member for $20.20. Sign the Declaration of Equality. The suffrage heroines — Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and thousands more – made 1920 possible. Add your name to the initiative to fulfill their vision in 2020.
(Lynn Yeakel, Director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, Drexel University College of Medicine and Vision 2020 Founder and Co-Chair. Vision 2020 is a national initiative of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership.)