How Equal is Women’s Equality?

By: Barbara Schwartz

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August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, “…the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which culminated a 72-year, non-violent campaign to extend the right to vote to women…”¹

But if we divide everyone up into two categories, are women really considered equals : women and men?

  • A peer reviewed article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015 demonstrated that male nurses were paid a statistically significant higher salary than their female counterparts. (doi:10.1001/jama.2015.1487).
  • Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was never passed? The ERA was passed by the United States Congress in 1972 and in order to become law, it needed to be ratified by 38 states by 1982. In ten years, we could not get enough states to ratify an amendment guaranteeing equality for all!
  • When it comes to heart disease, women and men are not equal. Women’s symptoms are often different from men’s symptoms. Recognizing women’s cardiac symptoms in a healthcare setting, treatment, and education are also lagging in many places.² 

We have come a long way from the days of the Woman Suffrage Movement. But we have a long way to go. As women, our bodies can create life. But our hands are strong, our brains are capable, and we deserve the same pay, medical research, and treatment as men. How do we change that? The change starts at home! If we bring our daughters up to know that they are as smart and as capable as men and teach them to stand up and speak up, they will effect change. If we teach our sons that women are as smart and as capable as men and that women can be important additions to most professions, they will also normalize the idea of equality as they grow.

Are there certain things women cannot do? Perhaps. At 5’0” tall, I will always need a step ladder or a helping hand to paint the top half of a wall. But if there’s something a woman wants to do, and she does it well, then equality should be the rule of the day. After all, in my family, I’m the cookie baker, the money maker, and the dishwasher repair person!


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