The Woman’s Way: Brilliance, Resilience, and Unwavering Grit
By Marvelous Maeze, ELAB Executive Co-Chair and DEI Committee Chair
During March, Women’s History Month, Human Rights First’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board honors women who work past stereotypes and sexism to achieve their fullest potential.
American history is full of inspiring women who made impacts in architecture, arts, civil rights, education, enterprise, fashion, journalism, law, literature, public service, medicine, science, sports, suffrage, and technology. Varied in their backgrounds, these women were all brilliant, resilient, and showed unwavering grit. Their legacies are a blueprint for how modern women continue to advance the role of women in our society. We work for our own achievements while simultaneously working to ensure that the rights of women that were so hard to earn are respected.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. This year, women, men, and nonbinary allies across the globe united to call attention to issues like gender equality, pay equity, and gender-based violence against women. Despite Pakistan’s ban on protesting, approximately 2,000 women marched for their rights in Lahore. The Irish government used the day to announce a referendum to enshrine gender equality and remove discriminatory language from the country’s constitution. In Japan, women’s rights activists marched for the right to allow married couples to use different surnames.
Equal Pay Day, March 14, serves as a somber reminder that the gender pay gap has barely improved over the last 20 years. It typically takes women two and a half extra months to earn the equivalent of the average man’s annual pay because women earn about 82 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man earns. This issue is further stratified along racial lines as women of color bear the brunt of this discrimination. Black women earn about 65 cents on the men’s dollar, while Latin women earn about 60 cents. We must continue to demand equal pay for equal work and engage male allies to support steps, like universal paternity leave legislation, that would lessen discrimination against women in the workplace.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned decades-long precedent established by Roe v. Wade in the 2022 Dobbs Decision. Through an intentionally biased interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court infringed upon a fundamental right of American women by holding that there is no right to abortion embedded in our Constitution. This is a level of contempt for women’s autonomy that is not only antiquated but also dangerous. It strips women of a healthcare right that we have counted on for more than a generation.
The poorest among us, often suffering generational poverty, are most impacted by losing the right to choose. This decision impedes women’s right to improve their socio-economic status through the pursuit of her career ambitions. It also leaves victims of rape and incest vulnerable to state laws that may protect their abusers instead of them. Worst of all, the Dobbs decision allows despots across the globe to take away other rights and then point to the United States as a model of state-sanctioned oppression.
Women and our allies can change this. History shows that women must rely on ourselves to improve our collective cultural and socioeconomic standing. Women cannot continue to play by androcentric rules that leave many of us disenfranchised, disrespected, and underestimated. We must fight for equality and justice our way—the woman’s way—by employing brilliance, resilience, and unwavering grit.