Every Women’s Equality Day affords us the opportunity to reflect on the immediate and important challenges women and girls continue to face in our communities, our country and our world. And, every Women’s Equality Day also affords us the opportunity to consider the long-view in acknowledging the tremendous gains that have been made for women and girls over the span of years, decades and generations.
But both of these views overlook the remarkable work taking place right now to secure equality for women, including the work of The Junior League. On this Women’s Equality Day, let us commemorate the work of today—the work taking place to take us one step closer to the level playing field we all want and deserve.
Yes, human trafficking is a social scourge with a feminine face, as 71% of its victims are women and girls. But Junior Leagues across the Association—from Santa Barbara to San Diego, from Calgary to London, from Mexico City to Minneapolis—are helping victims become survivors. Whether it is providing shelter, advocating for public policy solutions, helping victims get a step towards the life of their choice or raising awareness with the “Abolish” campaign, Junior Leagues are tackling this scourge head on.
Yes, women remain grossly underrepresented in business leadership positions, notably at the C-suite level. But Junior Leagues are providing members the opportunity to develop the critical business skills that will allow them to be more competitive for those leadership positions in the business world—from running prominent not-for-profits in their local communities to leading boards and everything in between.
And yes, while a record number of women are running for political office this year, we know that institutional power continues to be a battleground for equality. But Junior League State Public Affairs Committees (SPACs) across the U.S. are bringing truth and advocacy to power. Our SPACs have successfully advocated for legislation that eliminates unfair taxes on feminine products, co-sponsored legislation to provide breast cancer treatment for uninsured women and helped bring to fruition policies that provide flexible sentencing and re-sentencing options for domestic violence survivors being prosecuted in the criminal justice system.
And none of this includes the challenges we tackle every day—food insecurity, generational poverty, illiteracy, cyberbullying, opioid addiction among many others—that also drives equality because it generates more female leaders in the 291 communities in which we operate.
Yes, the challenges are substantial, structural and serious. But let’s use this Women’s Equality Day to remind ourselves that change is possible. The proof is in the work that we are doing every day, right now.