Want to stimulate the economy? Equal pay for women is the single biggest economic stimulus the United States could experience, Gloria Steinem said last Wednesday in Fresno. Equal pay for women workers would pump an additional $200 billion into the economy.
“And this money would be used,” said the legendary feminist. “It’s not going to be sent to a bank account in the Cayman Islands.”
Steinem, with a speech called “The Longest Revolution,” kicked off the 76th season of the <a href=”http://valleytownhall.com/index.php” target=”_blank”>San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series</a> Wednesday morning in the William Saroyan Theatre.
Steinem, who is working on a memoir titled “Road to the Heart,” said the path to getting full equality for women faces two great dangers. The first is overcoming “profound, deep opposition” to it by those who hold much of the power in society. The other danger is combatting the myth that the fight is over.
It took suffragettes a century to get legal identity for women when women gained the right to vote. It could take another century for women to gain full legal equality.
“And we’re barely halfway into this – I don’t know how to break this to you,” she said.
Steinem has been a women’s activist for more than 30 years. In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and remained one of its editors for 15 years, <a href=”http://www.gloriasteinem.com/who-is-gloria/” target=”_blank”>according to her website</a>:
<blockquote>She helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, and the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that continues to work to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office at a national and state level.</blockquote>
During the Town Hall lecture, Steinem made references to women’s issues that have arisen leading up to next month’s presidential election – equal pay, access to contraception, efforts to restrict abortion.
Steinem said women shouldn’t be surprised that progress that seemed already won in the struggle for women’s equality is now moving backward.
“I hope you are not surprised that we are still fighting the battle for reproductive rights,” she said, calling reproductive freedom a fundamental and basic right.
I don’t agree down the line with every aspect of Steinem’s positions. But I do respect what she has done to further women’s equality. And I agree with her when she said the “voting booth is one place where we are all equal.”
Know that progress we have made is not set in stone. The fight is not over, and it will take a united effort with voices from all corners to continue to make progress. Issues that matter in our everyday lives are becoming political game pieces maneuvered by politicians.
If we learn where we came from, study our history, then we can see how far we still have to go.
Steinem said the Internet allows us to be communal across national boundaries, a virtual campfire, if you will.
We must share our stories, form connections. In doing so, we help support each other and we create strength in our numbers.