On a night when they all wore white it was extremely hard to ignore them. They stood out in a sea of suits and the visual tribute to the US suffragists worked. The women in Congress, the female leaders in Government in the US had taken their moment. The State of the Union address was the platform that Democratic Congress women used to make a stand of solidarity and also recognize those who fought to advance women's rights.
That was back in February, under the leadership of President Trump who at many times has been criticized for encouraging racist speech, denying women's rights and promoting discriminatory language. The chorus of white blazers and dresses was one of the stand out moments of the 2019 Congress thus far, that and Nancy Pelosi's 'clap'.
Today we celebrate International Women's Day and examining the landscape of politics and world leaders, we can see it has transformed hugely over the last number of years. We look back at the now infamous image of a lone Angela Merkel flagged by David Cameron, Barack Obama and Jose Manuel Barroso which was used to promote a #MoreWomen campaign run by Elle Magazine in 2015 to highlight the lack of women in top level government roles. This year for International Women's Day, they are campaigning for #BalanceForBetter, to further push the need for more women to sit at the top of the food chain.
Thankfully, raising awareness against bias of gender inequality has no longer been sidelined to just one day a year. 2019 has already seen the women continue to push boundaries, the most recent Nike sports ad features Serena Williams changing the narrative on what a true competitor can look like. With male athletes often time being congratulated when they show aggression and anger on the field of play, the same generosity has not been extended to women. Serena Williams has been at the forefront of solidifying this change. Off the sports field, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez ruffled many feathers last year as she stormed to victory in New York in November, not resting on her laurels, she has continued to crush her naysayers online and where it matters, offline, in Congress. Her recent speech where she challenged the House Oversight Committee on political corruption instantly went viral.
The Notorious RBG
If 2019 is the year to push for a better balance in the workplace, then 2019 is the year we recognize the work that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has done for women's rights. The 85 year old associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has spent the majority of her career working for the advancement of women's rights in the workplace. A Law graduate from Columbia and Harvard, RBG found herself unemployable after University and upon realizing that it was due to her being Jewish, a mother and a female, she sought to rectify the system from within. She went on to co-found the Women's Rights Projects at the Civil Liberties Union. It took her another 10 more years before she became the ACLU's general counsel, which led to a series of gender discrimination cases, six of which brought her before the U.S. Supreme Court. She won five out of six cases. A warrior for women’s rights, she used her intelligence and her voice to advocate for justice. A two time cancer survivor, "On the Basis of Sex", was the 2018 movie based on the life of Bader Ginsburg. Having spent most of her life doing what is now considered groundbreaking, RBG is the perfect inspiration for the modern working woman.
For all this progress made by women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Serena Williams, there is still a long way to go for true equality. This is why International Women's Day isn't going away anytime soon.
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