Editorial: Equality is the goal

York Dispatch
  • Economic distress causes creates long-lasting effects on women and their children.
  • Equality for women means autonomy over their health decisions and economic parity.
  • To achieve this, we must elect more women to Congress.

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s an ironic reminder that history books largely tell the stories of women — if they do at all — as secondary players, typically in supporting roles.

People gather from all over the country to participate in the Women's March on Washington, D.C Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Amanda J. Cain photo

Of course this is changing, if much too slowly.

Opportunities are certainly more plentiful today than they were in the 20th century. And women are making educational and professional strides at a rapid pace. They make up the majority of the nation’s population. And in the 2016 presidential election, a woman won the popular vote.

There is still a lot of work to be done on this front, however.

Wage disparity exists and is, in some cases, debilitating. For women who also are  supporting children without help from the father of those children, minimum-wage jobs (particularly at $7 or so an hour) with no health care make it virtually impossible to survive.

Pa. minimum wage hike a possibility

Poverty, food and housing insecurity and the other economic distress this situation causes creates long-lasting effects on women and their children. Children who are economically disadvantaged become educationally disadvantaged, creating a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break.

For women of color, this reality is more stark and affecting.

For women in professional careers, making 79 cents to every dollar a man makes, without assistance from the father of their children, also creates economic insecurity. And it remains the case that children of single parents are more likely to be the primary responsibility of the woman.

Even with assistance from fathers, responsibility is typically lopsided. Women still carry much of the burden of the children and the household in most families.

This, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t fabulous fathers, single dads and those in mutually supportive relationships, out there doing amazing work and not getting the credit they deserve.

But scales, in many crucial areas, from family to work, still favor men.

Op-Ed: To compete globally, end gender inequality

And this holds true in local, state and national government, as well. Women hold less than 20 percent of the congressional seats, while they make up the majority of the population.

Cynthia  Terrell, chair of FairVote’s Representation 2020, declared at this rate it would take 500 years for women to achieve parity when it comes to representation in U.S. government.

And so it follows that women’s voices aren’t fairly heard or considered when policy is being made. This is especially true today. The Trump administration and overwhelmingly male Congress look to make decisions regarding women’s reproductive health and likely won’t address pay inequality in any significant way.

Women must resolve to be stronger and more determined than ever. They must seek and gain political offices. They must demand the raises due them, and they must seek advocates to help them in domestic disputes for their sake and the sake of their children.

Women can change minds and hearts through the continued and sustained fight they know so well. It is precisely this struggle that has earned them this historic month in honor of their perseverance.