Tonight, Mary Anne Trasciatti of Hofstra University will be giving a talk on working women and their role in the fight for equality in the United States. This talk comes exactly one month after women’s marches across the United States attracted an estimated 4 million protesters from Maine to Hawaii and even more overseas, according to Jeremy Pressman of University of Connecticut and Erica Chenoweth of University of Denver. The march was not only a symbolic protest against Donald Trump, but also a show of solidarity and unification among the many marginalized groups of the United States, from the Black Lives Matter movement to the LGBTQ community and even the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. However, that is not to understate one of the core missions of the march, which was equal pay for women. On its website, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) stated its mission: “We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
Right now, according to a Congressional Joint Economic Committee, a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. However, the fight for gender equality in the workplace has been going on since the early 60s, when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender. This was one of the early accomplishments of the burgeoning second-wave feminism movement at the time. While the first wave of feminism was concerned with basic human rights and suffrage for women, the second wave was concerned with complete social and economic equality, which included issues like eliminating the gender pay gap and dealing with domestic violence.
Second wave feminism led to a marked increase in the success of female candidates in politics as women began to win elections. This increased political activism also led to increased participation in the organized labor movement. Today, working women have come to the forefront of the movement for equal rights for women. Working women are increasingly being acknowledged as the core of the women’s rights movement. It is with this in mind that on International Women’s Day this March 8th the organizers of the Women’s March have organized the Day Without Women, where working women throughout the United States will go on strike for a day to highlight the importance of women not only to American society, but also to the American economy. Ultimately, the talk tonight will highlight not only the importance of working women in advancing women’s rights today, but also the role they will play at the vanguard of the march towards complete gender equality.