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Silence. The stale air in an empty house. The irritable repeating tick of a clock. The inhale of a breath before a crowded room. Silence. Before 1920, women were silenced. Prohibited to speak, prohibited to act. Forbidden to vote. With time came change and the movement towards women’s rights and equality came with it. Not without struggle or strife or voices that rose above the din of ignorance. We found our voice. We knew which stories we wanted to tell. But now, one story remains which we cannot keep quiet. We must write it down in the pages of history, we must be vigilant day in and day out. We must be heard, especially on this day, Women’s Equality Day.
Women’s Equality Day is a day that celebrates when the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920 and granted women the right to vote. Ninety-seven years later we still possess this right. However, there is one right that belongs to us that we don’t hold. Equal pay.
According to the research group, Catalyst, as of June of this year, 32 women led Fortune 500 companies. That’s only 6.4%. Since Marissa Mayer stepped down as CEO of Yahoo! Inc., that number has dropped. Currently, women run 27 of the S&P 500 companies; only 5.4%. On Wall Street, a mere 10% of female professionals are on the trading floor. Today, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than men’s. Although we have made progress and the gap is narrowing over time, we still have a way to go. In fact, the Institute for Women's Policy Research estimates that gender pay equality won’t be reached until 2059.
On August 26, find your voice and celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Tell your story. Speak your words. Celebrate and bring awareness. It is your voice we need to hear.
“Wars are formed out of ignorance and hate, but won thru strategy and strength. Men form packs like wolves, strength in numbers. Women would be wise to learn this strategy, for only then will they move mountains.” –Unknown
Tiffany O’Donnell is the CEO of Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC). IWLC is a non-partisan statewide 510c3 non profit with offices in Sioux City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and the Quad Cities. It is dedicated to the development, advancement and promotion of women, their organizations and to impacting the Iowa economy. It carries out it’s mission through conferences featuring national thought leaders, Women Connect networking organizations and through its launch of the EPIC Corporate Challenge, a public/private partnership under the Honorary Chair Governor Kim Reynolds.