This past Women’s History month, I heard frustration from many on the current state of affairs in the US as it relates to gender equity. They’re right of course. Some of our fights have been moving backward and the rest aren’t moving forward fast enough. In these moments of upset, I try to remember that the work is not meant to be finished by us.
Where We’ve Been
It is completely reasonable to feel resentment with the current state of gender equity. Concrete examples, like the overturn of the 1973 case of Roe v Wade and the gender pay gap, make this easy. However, it is important not to be deterred from the fight. Questions born from frustration flow easily:
- Where were those that came before us?
- Why didn’t they push for more equitable, holistic change?
- How could they miss the irony is stepping on others to uplift white women?
These questions can be useful to ensure that we make the right moves for gender equity going forward. In hindsight, however, they may only lead to bitterness over past actions that we cannot retroactivly changed.
Those that came before us in this fight faced many of the same challenges as we do today plus more. Easy examples are that not all genders were not allowed access to the same education until 1972, with the landmark Title IX Amendment, or get their own credit cards until 1974. It is important that we acknowledge how far those who came before us made it. Even with all of the work left unfinished, not just for women, but people of all genders.
The Work that Remains
The feminist movement holds its roots in inequity and that can be a tough pill to swallow. That does not mean that it is a lost cause and we should abandon it. It just means that we have a lot of work to do before we achieve true gender equity. We need to pick up the baton and take it as far as we can for future generations to take further than we could ever dream.
So, let’s focus on the modern feminist movement listing folks of all genders, races and means at once. When the least of us are uplifted, we are all uplifted. Otherwise stated:
A rising tide lifts all boats.John F. Kennedy
What we can do is to make sure we leave no one behind in this journey, because it’s not really equity unless it includes everyone. For some of the most pertinent fights, please reference sources like the ACLU and HRC.
We’re Just One Leg in this Race
I sometimes feel defeat mounting when I see that the last protest didn’t change anything or that the donation I made went to a losing position. It helps me to realize that previous generations didn’t make progress perfectly, nor will we. And there should be no expectation we will be able to fix everything. We can all push for progress and cultivate the relationships with the next generation. Then we will know that whom we hand off the baton to will already be running. I am encouraged that in 2020, 51.4% of Americans between ages 18-24 voted and that number is expected to grow in 2024. The kids are alright; and if the kids are alright, we have hope to keep driving for change.
The work of gender equity is not meant to be finished by us, but I’ll be damned if I don’t push for it as hard as I can.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Whenever I post about something that is not explicitly personal finance related, I get feedback that “I come here for finance,” or “what does this have to do with money?”. First, I want to note that all equity issues can be brought back to money. Communities without support and proper services understandably suffer. For example, the increased rates of LGBTQ folks in poverty are well documented. Financial security and equity under the law are strongly correlated. While I live by and teach my clients personal finance strategies that are evergreen, they cannot overcome the power of infringement on basic rights.
As it relates to what you can do with your money? I use my money as a tool to build a life that matches my values and you should too. One of the ways to do this is to donate to organizations working on causes you believe in (See references to ACLU and HRC above). If you don’t have money to spare, then giving your time and voice are great ways to help a cause.