I want to dedicate this piece, written by Zelda, to my mother who was mayor of my home town. Her two favorite sayings were, “Wash your face, you will feel better,” and “Walk a mile in their shoes before you judge them.” She taught me a lot.
I have been very fortunate to have some very good women in my life and I think it’s because of my mom that I accepted them as equals and mentors all of them strong and gifted. My wife Louise, and two of the best colleagues I ever had the pleasure to serve with, Mary Pat Flynn and Virginia Valiela and of course Zelda MacGregor, PH.D.
Today is International Women’s Day. Every year on March 8, we celebrate and appreciate the contributions women make from our local communities to the global communities. It’s a wonderful thing to do, but we should do it every day of the year, not just one.
The theme of this year’s Women’s Day is Step Up Equality. I could not agree more. When Women’s Day conversations first started almost 100 years ago (yes, that recently), it was called Working Women’s Day and it focused heavily on the unique contributions and struggles of working women in an economy that, to this day, is not very nice to women.
Women who work often don’t make as much as their male counterparts in the same jobs. Women who work often fall behind their male counterparts if they choose to have a family (and that’s when we give them the choice) because they are denied sufficient paid leave after giving birth, affordable healthcare, access to quality healthcare, affordable child care and so much more (all of this while being paid less than men).
It is an obvious fact that women of all stripes–whether they work or not–contribute to our society and, just as obvious, we need to send a stronger message to the world that those contributions are valued and appreciated. We need to recognize that a woman who chooses to have a family and work deserves affordable options to care for her family. We need to recognize that women who choose not to have a family are making the choice that is best for them and fully support their endeavors and applaud their contributions.
We need to pay women a fair and equal wage, not soon, not in 10 years, not in 20 years, but now. A fair and livable wage should not be decided by gender.
We need to provide accessible, affordable and quality healthcare to all women- everywhere. A woman’s health is between herself and her doctor; it is not the business of anyone else, especially legislators.
We need to stand together and proudly applaud the incredible and defining contributions women have made, do make and will make to this planet and we need to do it every day.