2020 is a shaping up to be a big year for advancements in gender equality. In fact, The Guardian reports that world leaders, civil society and the private sector are preparing to make 2020 the biggest year yet for the advancement of women’s rights. Building on previous events, commemorating positive shifts and goals of note, supporting women leaders, and planning for new ways to close the gap are just a few of the ways that we can collectively continue our work to secure equal rights and opportunities for all.
For starters, thousands of people are expected to attend high-level UN events and forums in Mexico City and Paris to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the landmark agreement to end gender inequality. In addition to the Beijing anniversary, 2020 also marks two decades since UN Security Council Resolution 1325 first acknowledged women’s unique experience of conflict and their lack of involvement in peace negotiations, with anniversary events being planned for October. The New Year “also kicks off the 10-year countdown to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a commitment to end gender inequality by 2030.”
In the U.S., 2020 is also a year to celebrate as it marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. This historic anniversary offers an incredible opportunity to recognize an important milestone of our nation’s democracy and provides an ideal opportunity to explore its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative is serving as an informational clearinghouse, and publishing events hosted by local, state, and national groups who are working to, “remember the legacy of suffragists around the country with monuments, memorials, and projects that honor the life and work of the women who dedicated themselves to the fight for women’s equality.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that 2020 is an election year, and just as 2018 saw the biggest wave of women elected to government in history, with 2,133 women being sworn into America’s state legislatures. Since the election, women also hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate and 101 seats in the House, voters can expect this year to provide more of the same momentum. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women are running and they need our help to win.
In fact, supporting the women running or preparing to run could very well be where we can have the greatest impact in the coming year. While all eyes tend to focus on the presidency and national or even statewide offices, we need to also look local as Kate Black, former chief of staff and vice president of research for EMILY’s List points out, “There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country.”
“It’s not just the 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Black said. “It’s this whole landscape that’s available to women.”
“If women run, women win,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said. So, whether it’s the school board, city government, state or national office, we need to lend our support to help another woman run. That is how we make our voices heard. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way and support those ready to follow their lead. It’s when women help women that we all win, and it is time to recognize the road we’ve traveled, support one another through what lies ahead, and do our part to make 2020 the biggest year ever for advancing gender equality.