29 Mar A Woman’s World
Margaret A.M. Heine
is the principal counsel at Heine Law Group in Fullerton, California. She is licensed in California and Washington and has authority to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States Court of International Trade.
A Woman’s World
March 8, 2023 marked International Women’s Day. A Women’s Day has been part of the U.S. landscape since its first official appearance in 2/28/1909. On that date, was the first declared National Women’s Day in the United States. The gathering was held in New York, and was a meeting of like minded women who wanted equal rights for women as well as the right to vote.
March 19, 1911 marks the first “International Women’s Day” in the United States. The focus remained on a woman’s right to vote, to hold public office, and to stop discrimination against women.
The March 13, 1913 Women’s Day events are said to have spawned the Russian revolution. Russian women wanted the right to vote, the end of war, easier access to food and services by women. 7 days after the March 8, 1917 Women’s Day event in Russia, International Women’s Day was declared to be a non-working holiday for all Russian women.
June 5, 1919 marked the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote, a highly debated and supported movement by Women’s Day advocates of the time. The Amendment would not be ratified until 1920, but it was a step toward equality.
Surprisingly, in 1949, International Women’s Day was recognized by China, and women were given a half-day of work on each March 8th to commemorate the day.
Late to the party, but at least arriving on behalf of the other women of the world, the United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1975, and in 1977 proclaimed March 8th as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.
In 1981 Congress established the second week of March as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded that week into a month, making March Women’s History Month. The President has issued a proclamation every March 8th for International Women’s Day.
It’s been a long road, and how has women’s rights progressed? The platforms regarding voting have worked with almost all countries recognizing a Woman’s Right to Vote. There are still a number of countries in which it is difficult for a woman to vote, most notably in the Middle Eastern and African countries. However, the right to vote is still a much fought for right which then includes access to the political system and decision making process in those countries.
In the United States, there have been great inroads, and still many policies which need to change. It is an evolving framework of laws, state and federal policies.
As an overview, in 2022, the US Department of Commerce reported that there are more women in the United States than men, 164.8 million women to 159.9 million men. They also state that the discrepancy between men’s wages and women’s wages is till substantial with women only being paid 80% of their male counterparts. (Based on workers age 16 and older)
A surprising statistical is that with regard to a bachelor’s degree being the highest degree earned by a person, the women were better educated with 10% of women 25 and older having a bachelor’s degree, while only 19.9% of men did. There were no statistics on higher degree percentages between women and men.
The U.S. Department of Commerce data can be seen at www.commerce.gov regarding the pay gap between men and women, the effects of motherhood on pay and opportunity for example. The U.S. Census Bureau also provides statistical facts about women and occupations and earnings, and can be found at www.census.gov.
There are a number of laws protecting women against pay discrimination, opportunity discrimination, education discrimination, and medical discrimination. Some of the most important ones on a national, federal level are:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law states that a person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their sex.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act – (1964 and 1978). Act states that a woman cannot be discriminated against because she is pregnant. She also cannot be retaliated against if she complains about pregnancy discrimination.
Equal Pay Act of 1963. Makes it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same job.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Protects employees age 40 and older, especially working women with families.
Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972. Title IX provides equal access to education and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any program or activity or institution which receives Federal funding or assistance.
7 CFR 15 et seq (Code of Federal Regulations). Prohibits any federal agency from discriminating on the basis of sex or sexual orientation participation in any program conducted by various federal agencies.
Genetic Information Act of 2008. A needed change in the law, it prohibits employers from using genetic information obtained from dna and genealogy reports in deciding to hire or retain a person or using the genetic information, including medical information on diseases, from the person or any of their family members against them in the workplace.
In September 2002, Governor Newsom signed several laws relating to women’s rights and equality. Two of the most pertinent laws are:
SB 1162. Employment Salaries and Wages. Employers have to post a salary range for any position available.
AB 1287. Price discrimination. Eliminates a differentiation of price for products marketed to women, which is different than the essentially same product marketed to men. For example, shaving cream, razors, vitamins. Products that are the same or similar where generally the packaging is different.
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect and strategize how to have equal opportunity, access, and pay without regard to sex or gender.