PHILADELPHIA, PA – Women’s History Month came to a thoughtful close at the National Constitution Center this week. It was there Lynn Yeakel called women’s equality a priority not for one month, but every day of the year. Yeakel’s initiative for reviving past women’s suffrage and ERA movements is Vision 2020.
Yeakel believes, “Equality delayed is opportunity denied.” Opportunity denied not only to women, but to the nation when it overlooks a significant portion of the best ideas, talent, and abilities available to lead private and public institutions forward.
Vision 2020 stands for total equality for women by the 100th birthday of the 19th amendment, which secured women’s right to vote in America.
Modern civil rights acts, among other rights since then, promised to secure equal treatment in employment and public opportunities regardless of gender. Yeakel created Vision 2020 to make that promise a reality.
Yeakel, Vision 2020 co-chair and director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University, worked through the discovery and development phases. Vision 2020 was built and initial networks established with the help her team and generous sponsors.
Within three years, two delegates from each U.S. state assembled in the National Constitution Center with other organization members and colleagues excited about embarking on the delivery phase. They established the 5 goals that Yeakel unveiled at this week’s rally.
Goal 1: Achieve pay equality, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America.
Fran Fattah, a Pennsylvania delegate, reminded the attentive audience that women are now paid about 80% of what men make. Ten years ago the figures was 70% and before that 60%.
This shows progress, but the Academy of Management Perspectives reported 41% of the pay gap is unexplainable. And, the Institute for Women’s Policy projects it could take until 2057 to arrive at equal pay.
“This is not rocket science,” stated Fattah. She added equal pay can be realized tomorrow with the simple decision to do so.
Goal 2: Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect workplace talent, a diverse employee pool, and demographics.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates women now represent half the employed population. U.S. Census data puts them at half the total population and almost half of Americans with a college education. Most are either the sole or co-breadwinner in the household. Based on those figures, the achievement gap in the number of female chief executives, only 25% according to BLS, becomes obvious.
Goal 3: Educate employers about the value of policies and practices that enable men and women to share fairly their family responsibilities.
The Shriver Report found 69% of women feel they are most responsible for taking care of their children. Men equally agree that husband and wives today are negotiating rules on relationships, work, and family more than earlier generations.
Yet employer and government policies can present roadblocks. The Rockefeller Foundation survey found 76% of Americans favor laws supporting family leave and medical leave, and 69% support national paid sick days. In addition, about 75% of Americans support policies promoting quality affordable child and after school care. The bottom line: both men and women want more flexible work schedules.
Goal 4: Educate new generations of girls and boys to respect their differences and to act on the belief that America is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all.
Vision 2020 understands the other 4 goals cannot advance until and unless men and boys become advocates for equality. Both are encouraged to participate in the organization’s efforts.
Goal 5: Mobilize women in America to vote with particular emphasis on a record-setting turnout in 2020, the centennial of the 19th amendment.
Vision 2020 wants Americans to remember that a long line of people fought hard to gain the right to vote. Yet, roughly 46 million women failed to exercise that right in 2008. As a first step, women must stop undervaluing themselves and their rights.
Measured steps in the march toward all 5 goals are under way. Vision 2020 delegates are adopting forward-thinking and supportive projects.
Erin Vilardi, The White House Project vice president and New York Vision 2020 delegate is representative of the effort. She is designing intergenerational research that examines the relationship between young women and men, as well as those a generation older. It will explore men’s inclination to support equal leadership and other Vision 2020 goals.
“A critical part of advancing women,” says Vilardi, “is making sure this conversation includes men and boys.” Her research may document that theory and indicate in which issues the male gender wants to be included.
Right now, Vision 2020 Project Director Catherine Ormerod asks the public to contribute momentum in several ways. They can sign the Vision 2020 Declaration of Equality and participate in state projects, including the Pennsylvania delegate project when it is determined.
People can become contributing charter members of Vision 2020 by paying the $20.20 membership fee. Most of all, Ormerod hopes individuals will use whatever platform (associations, churches, clubs, etc.) available to them to communicate issues fostering gender disparity and advocate closing the gap. To learn more about Vision 2020, visit www.drexel.edu/vision2020, or contact 215.991.0267 or [email protected]
All rights to this article are reserved by Gloria Blakely. Copyright 2011.