Running with the bulls is an experience I will never forget. The rush I felt as I waited for the sirens to go off. The first step as I ran for my life. If I had been born just a few decades earlier, running would have been illegal. If I had been born when my namesake, Rachel Obershaw was born, I would not have initially had the right to vote. While incredible progress has been made to bridge the gaps in gender inequality, the statistics are still alarming. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), it will take another 170 years before men and women are paid equally. Let’s cut that in half.
If it takes 170 years, that means my daughters’ great-grandchildren will experience gender inequality. The impact is significant. Not just for my family but across the globe. Half of the world’s population is female. Empowering women is more than just the right thing to do; it could save the planet.
One way to cut the number of years it will take to achieve gender equality is through organizations like Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit called “Lean In.” The mission of Lean In “is to empower women to achieve their ambitions.” Lean In tells stories of men encouraging women in the workplace, being a 50/50 partner, and being an “all-star dad.” It tells stories of women mentoring women, being role models for girls, and supporting female colleagues, friends, and family as they strive to be the best they can be.
It’s these stories that could slash 170 years in half. Lean In tells stories of the impact women have on each other’s lives. One example of a pioneer with impact was my Aunt Rachel. Born in 1892, Rachel Obershaw was a woman working in a man’s world. Even though the cards were not stacked in her favor, she started a greeting card business. Her success led her to serve on Postmaster General John A. Gronouski’s Zip Code Committee. My Aunt helped create the Zip Code we use daily. Without extraordinary women like my Aunt, many of the innovations that are part of our everyday lives would not exist.
This year, a Wall Street firm commissioned a bronze statue of a girl staring down a charging bull in New York City that says, “know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” Sheryl Sandberg and all the women running gender equality organizations are the fearless girls who together will slash the time in half. My Aunt Rachel was that girl leading with power 100 years ago paving the way towards the improved equality we experience today. I was that young girl running with the bulls in Pamplona, making my voice heard. I am that girl today, mentoring the women in my life and sharing their stories with anyone who will listen. I believe the statistic can be changed by getting stories like these out to women. These are the actions that will address the challenge of gender inequality.