I know I am supposed to feel grateful that there’s a month each year dedicated to celebrating women who have made history. But I feel more disappointed than grateful. Like Black History Month, Women’s History Month is in place because women still aren’t appreciated as having made a historically significant impact in our country. It’s like they are throwing us a bone because men don’t view us as equal. I look forward to the day Women’s History Month has no more reason to exist.
The month was earmarked Women’s History Month in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter and has continued to be proclaimed such by every president since then. Yes, there is a great deal to celebrate surrounding women’s impact on our history, but we still have far to go before we secure equal rights, equal pay, and end domestic violence. The numbers show how behind we are, especially if you are a woman of color or lower economic means. That’s why we still need Women’s History Month
According to Lean In’s study titled Women in the Workplace 2021, ” In spite of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s representation had improved across most of the corporate pipeline at the end of 2020. This is an encouraging sign—and worth recognizing after an incredibly difficult year. But there are also persistent gaps in the pipeline: promotions at the first step up to manager are not equitable, and women of color lose ground in representation at every level.” Should we be grateful that we can get to the entry-level? Is that considered progress?
So, while the overall picture is better, there is a huge need for large corporations to do more to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in their respective workforces.
And what about our kids? Who is responsible for speaking up for them? Women. According to the Annie E. Casie Foundation, almost 18% of all children living in this country are living below the poverty line. And we are the richest country in the world. What’s more depressing is this number hasn’t moved since 1990. As women – we are the ones most vested to change these awful statistics.
“The data also reveals that poverty rates remain disproportionately high for children of color. Nationwide, Black (28%), American Indian (25%) and Latino (23%) kids are more likely to grow up poor when compared to their non-Hispanic white (10%) and Asian and Pacific Islander (9%) peers.”
The Children’s Defense Fund found, “more than 1.5 million school-aged children experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, living in shelters, transitional housing or on the streets.”
We know that social safety nets work because the federal government’s stimulus payments and refundable tax credits put in place during the pandemic in 2020 lifted 4.6 million children out of poverty. Now we have to work to sustain this.
Since children are the future of our country it does not bode well that we can continue to be the richest country in the world if we don’t fix the inequities in the system. Because chances are, if you grow up below the poverty line, you will live below the poverty line as an adult. It is a very challenging cycle to break.
According to the non-profit Brothers Where Art Thou, U.S. state and local spending on prisons and jails grew at three times the rate of spending on schools over the last 33 years. At the same time, the federal government spends $600 billion per year on military defense. Public education is the cornerstone to pull children out of poverty, but it seems like we value incarceration and war more than providing poor kids with a solid foundation.
Women are the only group that has the incentive, drive, and determination to change this picture and our future. We need to better support each other at the corporate level by providing better opportunities and mentorship to women of color and those within the LGBQ community.
We are 50% of the population and need to use our power and speak up for more equitable pay, management-level opportunities, fight for more public school investment, and raise the minimum wage to pull children above the poverty line.
Even though men should care about these issues just as much, we all know these fall under the banner of “women’s issues.” I am ashamed to say that my home state of New Jersey ranks #2 in the growth of food insecurity in the country.
Currently, 20% of all children who live in New Jersey are food insecure and it is the fourth richest state in the country in terms of per capita income. Our kids deserve better. I am currently doing my part to make a change by working with two organizations Reveal 2 Heal and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. If you are reading this post, I hope you will consider taking action in your area as well, and maybe one day instead of Women’s History Month there will be a need for a Men’s History Month because we will be in the driver’s seat.
In addition to the 2 charities I mentioned above here are more suggestions for getting involved: