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Women's Equality Day: MI Women Still Not Completely Equal

August 25, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - It has been 91 years since the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote and hold office, an achievement celebrated on Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day. And while women have certainly come a long way since the suffrage movement, activists say women still have a long way to go to truly achieve equality in this country.

Dr. Jennifer Martin, vice president of National Organization for Women: Michigan Action, says Women's Equality Day is an important reminder to both men and women not to take rights for granted, and it also is an opportunity to redefine what it means to be a feminist.

"Married women now have the right to obtain credit in their own names, we have the right to birth control and other reproductive rights, feminists have ended sex-segregated employment ads, and we have sexual harassment awareness, policies and laws."

However, Martin points out, women need look no farther than the workplace when it comes to issues of inequity. She says the glass ceiling is still very much in place for females, who hold fewer than 20 percent of the top executive positions in the corporate world. Women still earn on average just 76 cents for every dollar their male counterparts bring home, she adds.

When it comes to the economic downturn, Martin says women have been disproportionately affected.

"Women represent just over half of the public work force, but they've lost the vast majority, over 72 percent, of the public employee jobs."

Martin hopes commemorating Women's Equality Day will help young women understand the struggles of those who came before them, and raise awareness of the inequities women continue to face today.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI