“It’s a girl!” The declaration brought me tears of joy when my husband and I welcomed our now 4 year-old daughter into the world. Hearing it again when our second daughter is born later this summer will surely make my heart swell once again.
These tiny girls have changed my world forever. As I pursue a path in public service, it’s crystal clear to me why I need to change our world forever — for my girls.
We are living in a time when, for the first time in decades, we are unlikely to leave a better, more empowered and more equal future for our daughters than the one we inherited.
My great-grandmothers’ generation fought for the right to vote. My grandmothers were among the countless women who took jobs for the first time as men went off to fight World War II. Next came “women’s lib” and the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, which helped define my mother’s generation of “super women,” who worked hard at their jobs while still fulfilling traditional roles as homemakers and child raisers, certainly struggling to make it not look like a struggle.
My generation grew up believing we can do and achieve anything we want — and rightfully so. But the stability of such progress is fragile. Today, a new wave of legislation threatens to severely roll back woman’s rights — especially the right to choose. Laws have been voted down that dared to propose a guarantee of equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. Why? Because the people making laws are not, for the most part, the women affected by them.
As a result, a generation of girls growing up in our country may not experience a generational leap forward for women, but may instead suffer the erosion of empowerment and rights that took decades to establish.According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in April 2015 the United States ranks 73rd in the world based on percentage of elected offices held by women – lower than many Middle Eastern countries, Mexico, China, and Kenya. In California, only 25 percent of current state legislators are women – an unimpressive ratio that is down from an also regrettable 27 percent in recent years.
Politics as usual must change to ensure a safe, bright and equal future for our daughters — and all our children. That’s why I’m part of Emerge. I need to be part of the change — because “it’s a girl!”