As long as I can remember, women have been complaining about gender discrimination. What surprises me is seeing so many women in the street protesting one thing or the other. Yet, we have no Equal Rights Amendment. We complain about sex discrimination. Many women spend their early married years supporting men in medical school, law school and in other areas of higher education.
For too many years, women have talked about passing an Equal Rights Amendment. We’ve complained about a lack of equal pay for equal work. We’ve complained about having to work, to clean the house, to take the lead role in the lives of children, often having to be the breadwinner in our families while men move ahead in their careers. We often rely on men to make changes for us. A lot of women don’t understand their worth. We must begin to exercise our power. We can’t come out in the street in overwhelming numbers, then return home and forget what is keeping us in a state of inequality.
Sisters, we must exercise our power in all that we do. Just recently, I’ve been reading about women athletes who don’t get paid as much as male athletes. One thing we can do to remedy that is attend games where women are playing, coaching or refereeing. We should buy as many tee-shirts and other sports paraphernalia for women as we do for males. We must purchase products from companies that support female players. I don’t care how much male athletes earn so long as equally talented women are being paid fairly.
We must be supportive of women’s rights to fair play. If companies are not offering women advertising opportunities as they do men, find other products to buy. Let’s not limit fair wages to women in sports. Let’s support women’s rights in all aspects of life. When we have jobs to hire someone, make it a woman as often as possible. Pay them what you would have paid a man.
According to Caroline Alcorta, a USA junior championship medalist, the biggest piece of legislation against gender discrimination was Title IX. It states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Alcorta said that after Title IX was enacted, women athletes outnumbered men in the 1972 Olympic Games and more events became available to women like the marathon.
Participation in women’s athletics has grown to over 2.6 million for high school girls, and to more than 150,000 women college athletes. Title IX is credited with decreasing the dropout rate of girls from high school and increasing the number of women who pursue higher education and complete college degrees. This direct correlation between sports participation and education stressed the importance of equal opportunities for women. Women were not only able to compete in sports but doors are not open for women pursuing new careers. The act shaped society on more than just an athletic level, but also on educational and economic levels.
Equal access to sports, academics, and careers challenged gender stereotypes. This met some opposition. Those who opposed Title IX argued that male athletics would suffer by receiving less budgeting and lead to cut programs when attempting to meet the equality standards. Title IX far outweighed the fears of imagined consequences.
Women have a right to be treated with respect and equality no matter what field in which we find ourselves, and we have the power to make that happen. We just have to coalesce around ways to use our power.
Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., President of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. www.nationalcongressbw.org. 202/678-6788.) She’s also host to WPFW-FM’s radio program entitled “Wake Up and Stay Woke.”