August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, marking 100 years since the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which gave women the right to vote. The path to suffrage – a woman’s right to vote – was not easy. Similar to modern movements like the 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo, the amendment only passed after tenacious women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton courageously stood up against the inequality they experienced. Susan B. Anthony joined the fledgling women’s movement in 1852 and dedicated her life to not only suffrage, but also the abolition of slavery. She was instrumental in persuading the University of Rochester to admit its first woman in 1900. Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 about women’s rights, which some consider the beginning of the gender equality movement. In her speech, she declared: We are assembled to protest against a form of government existing without the consent of the governed—to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love; laws which make her the mere dependent on his bounty. Both women died before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, but their perseverance laid the groundwork for the rights women have gained in the years since – for example, to serve on a jury, to work in jobs previously restricted to men, and to use contraception. It may seem impossible to imagine that women did not have basic rights such as these, but take a look around you. Despite extraordinary progress over the last 100 years, women still face inequality every day. In the United States: Women hold 4 percent of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies. Women hold 20 percent of public company board seats. In July 2020, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that women earned less than their male counterparts. Specifically: White women earned 83.3 percent. Black women earned 93.7 percent. Asian women earned 77.1 percent. Latina women earned 85.1 percent. More than 120 countries around the world provide paid maternity leave and health benefits by law, including most industrialized nations except the United States, Australia and New Zealand. In 2020, women hold 7 percent of US Congressional seats. Globally: Gender inequality exists everywhere: six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women. At the global level, gender inequality extends beyond economics to include the realms of education, safety, and health, too, and these discrepancies cause continued economic inequality. Safety: 1 in 5 women and girls aged 15-49 reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period. Over 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th At least 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation. Education: In the least developed countries, barely 60 percent of girls complete primary school and just 30 percent enroll in secondary school. Women make up more than two-thirds of the world's 796 million illiterate people. Just 39 percent of rural girls attend secondary school. This is far fewer than rural boys (45 percent), urban girls (59 percent) and urban boys (60 percent). Health: In 2018, 74 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10-19 years were among girls, worldwide. In 2015, maternal health conditions – such as hemorrhage, sepsis or obstructed labor – were the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19. As long as gender disparity like this remains, there will be a need for courageous women – and men – to use their voices to change the status quo. Who is the next Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton among you who will make a difference? Learn more about Women’s Equality Day. If you want to support gender equality, please consider a donation to Forté to help change the status quo.