Opinion: Commentary: Celebrate International Women’s Month. And then Keep Going

If nothing else, the past few years have taught us this: It’s International Women’s Month 2021 — and we still have a lot of work to do to achieve equality for women in our country.

Only last year in 2020 did Virginia become the 38th state to ratify the long-contested Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA). The ERA is an addition to the US Constitution that would prohibit discrimination based on sex.

Only last year did we elect our first woman Vice President — a leadership position higher than any woman ever before her. Yet, while we celebrated this incredible achievement, we wonder — why is this incredible at all? Should it not be the norm?

And, as we watched Vice President Kamala Harris step up on this platform, the women on the ground around us took significant steps down. Women’s progress in the workplace rolled back with alarming speed. Because when the chips fell and families were forced to make tough choices due to COVID, the women were the ones who took a step back. They left their jobs (that still paid less than men’s roles), cut their time down, or put aside their fledgling businesses to care for their families.

Let us be clear.

We are thankful for the women who helped us get where we are today. Our ancestors fought for our right to speak up with a vote. For protecting our bodies, for using our brains and creativity in new ways, for exploring the world’s possibilities.

We are thankful for the groups of women and advocacy coalitions who remind us every day the importance and power of #womensupportingwomen.

And yet. We have a lot to do so all the work doesn’t go to waste. We must keep moving so that when a woman steps into power, it’s considered part of the norm. So that working mothers aren’t the ones who step down in their careers by default.

For our part at Rowan Tree, we are committing to supporting women business owners. We are fighting on behalf of minority groups to achieve equity. We are fostering collaboration and learning opportunities, because we all know that we are #strongertogether. Let’s keep going.

Kate Viggiano Janich, Co-Founder, Rowan Tree, a coworking + cogrowth community focused on women, open to all.

www.workrowan.com

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