Today we celebrate Women’s Equality Day and we mark the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We honor those who made this day possible like Alice Paul and Ida Wells-Barnett and the countless women who fought for suffrage. They understood what we know now – that there is power in participation. We believe in the importance of voting.
Since 1920, women have made enormous strides toward social, political, and economic equality in the United States. Today, women and girls comprise just over 50 percent of the United States' population. Women now outnumber men in undergraduate education, as they now earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and they makeup nearly half of the U.S. workforce.
While we have made great strides, there is still more work to do. As President Obama noted in the Women’s Equality Day Proclamation “we celebrate this important milestone and the achievements and shattered ceilings of the past, we also recognize the inequalities that remain and our charge to overcome them.” Women in the U.S. only earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar a man earns and the wage gap grows for women of color: African American women earn 69 cents and Latina women earn 62 cents for every dollar earned by a white male per week. And women and girls continue to lag in key sectors that are critical to building our 21st century economy. For example, women hold only 27 percent of jobs in science and engineering.
For these reasons and many more, the Obama Administration is focused on keeping up the fight for equality. This is why we created the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Council is working to institutionalize and embed an ongoing focus on women and girls as part of how the federal government develops policies, pursues programs, and works with Congress. We strive to embed the fight for equality in all we do. Every day we stand on the shoulders of the women who went before us and we keep them in mind as we forge ahead for another 90 years.
You can learn more about Women's Equality by reading President Obama's Presidential Proclamation on Women's Equality Day.
Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.