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Gender Equality: An Important Component of Your Health and Wellbeing

By Laurie Levin

Equal rights. Equal pay. Equal representation. Safety. Freedom to make one’s own health care choices. None of these are a reality for women today.

The U.S. Constitution, including the 14th amendment, was written by and for men--only. Equal pay is not a reality for women with studies showing women earn just 49-80% of what men earn. Of 45 Presidents, all, as we know, have been men. Only 20% of Congress and 5% of Fortune 500 company CEO’s are women.

Safety? Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten, 1 of 5 are raped and 3 women per day are murdered. Laws are coming out of states in droves that limit a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and health.

Quality of life impacted? Financial wellbeing? Physical wellbeing? Emotional wellbeing? You bet. All of the above and that is why equality is as important as any other aspect of our health and wellbeing, for both women and men.

Current events and politics would suggest we’re moving backwards. We elected a U.S. President who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and clearly feels women are to be seen more than they are to be heard.

While we are living in one realm of chaos and confusion, there is another, and it’s peaceful and harmonious. It’s harder to glimpse with all the chaos, yet it brings promise of a better, fairer and more caring society for us all. Documented and undocumented. Brown, black and white. All genders and sexual orientations.

A sign of better days to come? Well we just elected over 100 diverse women to Congress. Something truly wonderful happens as the percentage of women in leadership goes up. The focus changes. In government, we pass more legislation on health care and education, the essentials each of us needs regardless of zip code.

The process by which we do so, is more civil and family friendly. When women participate in peace negotiations, peace accords are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.

In other words, we all win.

Einstein said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Equality is what will bring peace and prosperity to more corners of the country and world and it begins with each of us.

While those of us alive today may not get to see it in our lifetimes, we can smile remembering we are sending more than 100 women to DC as of January 3, 2019. We are on a brighter trajectory as a result. A path that brings us closer.

To ensure we stay on this new path and even brighter ones to come, we must each look to see where we plug in to the inequalities that keep so many underserved.

Where do you accept and allow ‘boys to be boys’ when it’s time for an adult to show up? Where do you give up your power because of gender? Change your name to his at marriage? Why? Why is it that women are expected to give up their family name at marriage and then name their children after him as well? What does this say about how we value women?

What different expectations do you have for female leaders vs male leaders, because it is quite clear we judge them differently given who holds power? Do you live in a state that has not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment and keeps women unprotected from discrimination?

Are you using language that puts women down, like calling adult females ‘girls’ when conversely calling men boys only when they act like children?

Allowing one more history book in a classroom that doesn’t equally include the contributions of women?

No doubt it will take more than 100+ women off to Washington DC to deliver equality. Fortunately the majority of Americans put them there. There’s no turning back that kind of wave, blue or pink, whatever you want to call it. Not indefinitely. There are set backs, as we see today, and they are reminders of all that is precious to us as human beings, and to get back into action.

While legislation will never be the entire answer, it is an important part. The rest is up to each of us, and the choices we make, every day.

One thing is for sure. There will be more obstacles to come, on our way to equality. Nevertheless, and as we always have, we will persist.

Bringing greater consciousness to our lives and making choices that consistently support equality will speed things up so that girls and women one day, sooner than later, will have the same rights and opportunities as men and are safe to pursue them.

Contact me at my blog to talk more on this subject.