The pages of American history include stories of women who lived their lives with purpose and passion, women who worked to effect positive change in the world. On Tuesday, November 4th, the voices and the votes of the women of this country will have a significant impact on the next chapter of the new millennium. To each and every woman who is registered to vote in South Carolina; it matters that you exercise this right and privilege. It matters what you stand for and what you want for your family and community.
- It matters that your voice is heard
- It matters more today than ever before because 78 cents for every dollar does not represent equal pay for equal work.
- It matters today because women comprise over 50% of the population in the United States and only 16% of our national representatives in Congress and Senate.
- It matters today because South Carolina ranks at the bottom of all states in terms of women’s earnings, educational attainment, access to health insurance and political representation. We are at the top of the list in terms of women and children living in poverty.
- It matters today because in corporate America women make up approximately 50% of the workforce, but only 2.4% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only 2.4% of the Fortune 1000 companies, only 16% of the total number of top management executives and less than 15% of those individuals holding corporate Board seats.
- It matters today because only 28% of women over the age of 25 in the United States have earned baccalaureate degrees.
Why do we as Americans not expect more for our mothers, daughters and sisters? If there were ever a time in the world when women needed to be encouraged to be strong, to be independent, to take an interest in the world on their own behalf, and to make change happen—it is certainly now. Collectively we need to advocate for change in social norms, institutions, laws, economic policies, and ourselves if we are to ultimately guarantee the rights and privileges of girls and women around the world.
As the president of Converse College, I believe wholeheartedly, as did the founder of this college in 1889, “that the well being of any country depends much upon the culture of her women.” It is time for women to expect more — for and from society, our communities, families, workplaces, our country and ourselves. Expect appropriate compensation, earnings and equity. Expect a voice and a place at the decision-making table. Expect not that women and girls are taken care of, but that women and girls are able to develop the autonomy and confidence to take care themselves, their families and their community.
With greater involvement comes greater awareness that women bring added value, real talent and diverse perspective to a workplace, a community, a profession and a Board as women, mothers, wives, sisters and friends. So, vote South Carolina women. By doing so, you will help to expand the expectations, opportunities and respect for women and girls, and by association our families and our country.