Photo by Kari Geha
What a difference a decade makes. The 2010s have been one of the most monumental decades for female and female-identifying individuals. And while sometimes it feels as though we are walking one step forward/two steps back, I am galvanized as I look back on all of the accomplishments, advances, and territory gained in the last 10 years.
From the unprecedented 2017 Women’s March on Washington, to the unstoppable Me Too movement, to legalization of same-sex marriage, there is a lot to celebrate as we leave the 2010s.
What is Equality?
That said, I also realize, with great clarity, how much work remains to be done. We are still a long way from anything that resembles true equality, and the coming decade will present new challenges, particularly as the “equality” conversation broadens outside of male/female binary gender into intersectionality, addressing the overlaps in discrimination not only toward women but toward other gender, economic, social, and political identities.
A Look Back in Time
As we move into the new decade, it is critical to remain optimistic in the face of what can often feel like insurmountable challenges. Whenever I start to feel like our hurdles are too great to overcome, I like to look back to history and remember just how far we have come in the decades since I was born. Consider these two key milestones:
- It was only in 1974 that the Senate passing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which legally required lenders to stop discriminating based on gender and marital status. If you were a single woman, it was almost impossible to get a credit card, buy a house, buy a car or get a business loan.
- In 1980 women were only making 64% on the dollar to men. Today we are nearing 85%.
How Do We Achieve Equality?
Still, the question I keep pondering is how we get out of the one step forward, two steps back situation we are in? It’s difficult to see a solution when Planned Parenthood is defunded, trans and gay rights continue to be threatened, women are denied certain jobs for fear of sexual harassment lawsuits, and the flatlining (and in some cases declining) statistics for women in leadership roles. We have to wake up and ask ourselves if perhaps we need to approach true equality from a few different angles.
There is no single answer to such complex issues, but in our current climate, the majority of the “solutions” presented appear to incorporate a top down approach i.e. policies, laws, quotas, lawsuits, etc. Forcing change from the top down is certainly one piece of the puzzle, and I believe that for policies, quotas and laws to be successful, we also need a ground up approach that addresses the equality conversation at a cellular level.
Time To Look Within
To create deep, lasting, uncompromising equality, we have to look inside ourselves. Equality is not just a word, it’s a state of mind, and until each of us truly believes deep down that we are all indeed equals (all meaning ALL—gender, race, socio-economic background, nationality, etc.), the top down approach will always fall short. It’s easy to point fingers at men and say “you’re the problem because you don’t see me as an equal.” However, progress requires more.
Women must take a mirror to themselves and realize their own internal gender biases and insecurities and see where they are hindering their own path towards equality. This is not just an “us vs. them” conversation, this is about each of us individually, and also the entire system collectively. We can’t achieve equality alone, but we also can’t achieve it without creating a new paradigm inside each of us…we need to establish a new lens to view the world.
TARRA in the 2020’s
In the coming decade, my vision and mission is for TARRA to become that new lens for you. As we roll out new educational programming, workshops, anti-networking events, and cultural experiences in 2020, we invite you to turn to that mirror and ask yourself what you need to learn, see, do, be, create, and contribute to the conversation around equality in mind and soul.
Stay tuned, lots of exciting news to come. Meanwhile, I leave you with a roundup of a few incredible achievements of the last decade. We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.