In honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, Our Quote of the Week highlights the inequities that persist between women and men in 2020. Sargent Shriver may have spoken these words in 1975, but they continue to resonate today.
During the early days of his 1976 Presidential campaign, Sargent Shriver addressed the Women's Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California. He listed a set of "women's issues" he would focus on as President, including lack of equal representation in the workforce, lack of pay equity, gender discrimination, rape legislation, maternity leave, child care, and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (which, to this day, has still not been fully ratified).
It's notable that in the speech, Sargent Shriver says: "There really is no such thing as a 'women's issue' that isn't also a 'men's issue.' [...] Real equality would be as liberating for men as for women [...] Men are imprisoned by the very stereotypes that oppress women. The economic rat race and the macho model are the other side of the male dominance coin. What's involved in this struggle is no less than the most profound of all questions -- what does it mean to be a human being?" In these words, we hear Sargent Shriver's challenge to a status quo that limits all of us as human beings. And it is because "women's issues" also impact men, that he asserts that "the women's movement must be America's movement."
Fueling Sargent Shriver, as always, is his sense of justice. He emphasizes how inequities in his own field, the law, affect women everywhere. By pointing out the injustices in the system to which he himself belongs, he shows not only the willingness to be self-aware, but also a deep understanding of the potential of the law to act as a great equalizer.
We invite you to read Sargent Shriver's Address to the Women Leadership Conference, which stands as an important reminder that in the fight for equality, we must all work together to achieve our common goals. And we also invite you to take a look around at your own environment, to see how the systems and dynamics of which you are a part contribute to the inequality between women and men.