The Pride of a Young Woman at President Obama’s First Bill SigningJanuary 30, 2009
Crowding around a small TV in an office in the Public Policy and Government Relations Department of AAUW to watch as President Obama signed his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, into law was honestly one of the most encouraging, fulfilling, and joyous experiences I have ever had. As a fellow in the Public Policy and Government Relations Department, I was privileged to be able to share this momentous day with the AAUW staff that has been working diligently to ensure the passage of this bill.
Moreover, today I gained an even greater appreciation of those who have gone before me, paving the way for a more equal economic and social environment for women. As I prepare to enter the workforce in just one short year, my thanks and full respect are given to those like Lilly Ledbetter and the AAUW team members who work to bring pay equity to the full attention of lawmakers, as well as to the lawmakers such as Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) who have championed equal pay as a basic right and fought to ensure that legislative actions are taken to guarantee this right for future generations of working women. Because women have suffered discrimination in the past and continually fought for equity, they have cracked open the doors of opportunity to a new generation of young ambitious women like me, and for that I am truly and wholeheartedly grateful.
Although much has been accomplished, there is still a long way to go! As women, we continue to make 78 cents for every dollar that a man earns, and women of color earn even less. In the classroom, we are underestimated and face challenges that would discourage us from striving toward our dream. And in society at large, we still do not enjoy true equality as ideas of “tradition” or backward moral convictions skew the perception of a “woman’s place in society” and undermine our potential. However, today, witnessing the change that was effected by the voices of women across the nation, I am inspired to continue fighting for our equality in the workplace, in the world of academia, and in society as a whole. I hope with all that is my strength, that we will overcome, rejecting ideals and precedents of discrimination that have been our past so that we can strive toward a better future, defined by equality, opportunity, and change.
This post was written by Crystal Cazier, AAUW Public Policy Fellow