By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – March is Women’s History Month, a time when the nation celebrates the contribution of women to society. A local expert says the contributions are many, but the progress on equal rights needs a push.
American women formally began their fight for equal rights in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York at the first women’s rights convention. But it took 72 years before they won their biggest prize in 1920, ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which secured women’s right to vote.
“There are all kinds of ways that we’ve moved forward, but the pace of progress has been very slow,” says Lynn Yeakel. She is the founder of Vision 2020 at Drexel University. The group is a coalition of more than 60 national organizations that represent the interests of more than 22 million women and girls.
Yeakel says their goal is to achieve women’s economic and social equality by the year 2020 and there is lots of work to do.
“The good news is in 2013 there is a record number of women in the United States Congress, the bad news is it’s still under 20 percent,” says Yeakel. “The good news is that there are more CEOs of Fortune 500 companies than ever, the bad news is the number is 21, which means that 479 of them are men. The good news is we have had a serious candidate for President of the United State, the bad news is we are 44 to zero.”
Yeakel says work needs to be done to increase women leaders in corporate America and to ensure equal pay for equal work.
“Although we have large numbers of women in higher education, there is research that shows even right out of college a women is paid less than her male counterpart,” she says. “Women need to speak up and need to stand up for what our rights are.”
Yeakel says there has been a lot of good legislation, but there needs to be more. She says Vision 2020 is planning to bring the world’s largest group of women leaders to Philadelphia for a conference in the year 2020.