The Legacy of RBG: Decades of female identity shaped and never to be forgotten.

On September 18th, 2020 we lost a hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). As a beloved warrior of justice, we are in debt to RBG who had been championing women’s rights for 60 years.

With RBG’s passing, I have found myself thinking about her triumphs and considering my own identity, feeling the weight of the impact she had on women’s lives to make our realities possible. There are so many people and moments that shape our identities, our stories, all playing a part in who we become, what we do, and the opportunities available to us

Ginsburg’s fight against the gender wage gap stands out in particular. I am a marketing professional, a woman, Hispanic, and in the healthcare technology industry. Healthcare and technology are notoriously male driven. With women today only making up 29% of the technology industry, while getting paid $0.83 to every dollar a man makes in the healthcare industry. Competition in these industries is fierce and as your career progresses, the pool of women, let alone women of color, becomes smaller and smaller. Ginsburg’s legacy has left an imprint on my life so I can empower myself to strive for more and better.

Before RBG, we can look back to the beginning of time and see the women who have been fighting for our right to be heard and to have an equal opportunity in all aspects in life. Let us take a moment to reflect back on the incredible female heroes that came before for us, and like RBG’s, the importance of carrying their legacies forward.

UN Women’s, “Footprint Through History” gives us a look of the global efforts women have taken to fight for our rights:

400 BC, Greece, Agnodice: recognized as one of the first females to practice medicine in Greece despite that punishment for doing so was death.

1691, Mexico, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: celebrated writer and nun is famously known and criticized for studying secular literature and defending women’s rights to education.

1848–1920, United States, National American Woman Suffrage Association: a long fight for the right to vote in the United States but led by these three incredible women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony.

1893, New Zealand, Kate Sheppard: the country’s most celebrated suffragist, she campaigned their parliament for women’s right to vote and led to New Zealand being the first-self governing country to grant national voting rights to women.

1951, Egypt, Doria Shafik: she kick started the women’s rights movement in Egypt, demanding full political rights, pay equality, and reforms to personal status laws.

Without these women and many more, we wouldn’t be able to vote, make decisions for our own bodies, hold jobs that go beyond the home, and so much more. Their stories and impact on the world is written in our identities.

Let’s consider the workplace, a place where women have long been fighting for equal pay since 1872 in the United States.

  • In 1872, the first equal pay law was passed to cover female federal employees
  • In 1918, an attempted minimum wage law was enacted to protect the rights of women and children in the workplace
  • In 1923, the minimum wage law was stricken.
  • From 1939–1945, during WWII, millions of women entered the workforce to accommodate for the loss of manpower, at the end though women who had entered the industrial workforce were forced out to return to their traditional female roles.
  • In 1964, Title VII was enacted to extend the protections of the Equal Pay Act to include the workplace.

Ginsburg has lived through this enormous battle and has given a voice to those who didn’t for decades. As a Jewish woman and mother, she fought for her education and to enter a workforce dominated by men. A trailblazer from inception, Ginsburg has led through action as she faced sexism and pay discrimination through her early years. Teaching at Rutgers University, where she discovered she and her female colleagues were making significantly less than their male counterparts. This was the first of many fights for Ginsburg, she continued on to fight for her colleagues at Columbia and co-wrote the first law school literature on sex discrimination, 1974.

Her achievements and contributions to society have shaped legislation that has not only supported the advancement of women, but protections and liberties for the LGBT community, undocumented immigrants, and disabled persons. Ginsburg has long stood as a pillar of strength for women, an icon who has inspired millions to fight for their rights as she has fought all her life.

Ginsburg and the many women before her have expanded how women are able to identify in the world and without them we wouldn’t have the basic liberties we have today. With Ginsburg’s passing we mourn the loss of a treasure and we find ourselves with the duty to carry forth her legacy; to live wisely by her words and actions in order to pave a way forward for those to follow.

How do we do this?

  1. Educate or be educated on these issues as often as possible, understand the implications of legislation, know your rights — knowledge is power.
  • One of the best ways to act on your rights is vote those into power that are aligned with you — make sure you’re registered to vote!

2. Take one small step to use your voice for the greater good — get involved.

  • Volunteer and donate with organizations you believe in, that are taking up action. RBG started the Women’s Rights Project with the ACLU in 1972 and they still haven’t stopped advocating for women.

3. Think about the communities you occupy, stand up for those who don’t have a voice.

  • Whether it be the classroom, office, or walking down the street, stand up for your rights and others. We are stronger in numbers.

Lastly, in the words of the great Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, “real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time”, so, lets keep going.

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Written by: Alexandra Flecha-Hirsch

Alex is a U.S. based marketing professional. She is a passionate, innovative thinker and is driven to tell stories that help solve problems.

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