April 4 is Equal Pay Day in the United States. On Equal Pay Day, we highlight persistent wage disparities between men and women and mark, roughly, the day when women catch up with what men earned the previous year. Simply put, on average, women worked an extra 90 days this year to catch up with what men earned last year.
March is Women’s History Month. During March, we mark the global progress women and girls have made, evaluate challenges and barriers to that progress, and re-dedicate ourselves to a world where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed and to contribute. During March, we celebrate the multitude of achievements of those who have come before us, both famous and not so, and who have had an impact on our world. The month of March asks us to learn our history, meet those who have shaped our opportunities, and understand where we are in the long game of women’s equality.
As I wrote in early November, I cannot help but to think of the many women and men who I have stood by, learned from and worked with over the past 20+ years. From my time as an advocate and working in U.S. politics, to the many women who are so brave to think about running for office in their countries as well as those women and girls not involved in public life but just working every day to make their lives better for their families and communities. I was so proud and scared and thankful on election day.
But, as well all know, things did not turn out as I expected. So I publicly mourned on social media. And you know what happened? There was a lovely outpouring of love and support for me and the work I’ve been doing. I was even inspired! One dear friend wrote, “I have been thinking about you the most through all of this…hang in there. And you know? The next time I say “I’m with Her” I’ll be thinking about you, Susan Markham.”
When I was in middle school, I played on a recreational soccer team. I was incredibly introverted, a bookworm and rather slow. Though I preferred “defense” and never got close to the goalposts, I loved soccer, laughing with my teammates, feeling my body’s strength and growing comfortable with myself.
Those couple of seasons of soccer led me to a lifelong love of comradery and competition — a passion I’ve passed along to my own daughter.
I’ve been thinking about these experiences as the Olympic torch burns in Rio de Janeiro.
We know that women and girls are a powerful force for change. And when we put women and girls at the center of development, we can break the cycle of poverty. We can help them delay their marriages, choose the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, access needed services and information, complete their education, and gain the knowledge and skills they need to participate in the economy and in their country’s development.
Yet, all too often gender inequality gets pushed aside because of competing priorities or a lack of resources. People say that gender equality isn’t their area or that gender equality is a “women’s issue.”
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Economic Empowerment
- Empowering Girls
- Foreign Policy
- Gender Equality
- Human Rights
- Open Government
- Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
- Sustainable Development Goals