On Aug. 18, 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. This monumental occasion comes in the midst of a global pandemic that has exacerbated challenges and inequities that women in this nation continue to experience.
Some are related to physical safety, including domestic violence. Some are related to economic insecurity, and many still are related to societal expectations about women’s role in the home as it is balanced with women’s roles in the workplace.
One hundred years after being granted the right to vote, women still struggle to be heard when it comes to issues related to child care, women’s health, and professional expectations.
There is no better organization to highlight this month in light of these challenges than the Women’s Law Center.
Many young professional women have now become acutely aware of the need for professionals and organizations to engage in philanthropic, legislative and legal causes during this pandemic. They should be aware of the important role this organization plays in helping women throughout the state of Maryland, especially in this difficult time.
The Women’s Law Center of Maryland serves as a leading voice for justice and fairness for women by advocating for the physical safety, economic security, and autonomy of women throughout the state. The center works towards this goal by providing direct legal representation, information and referral services, and legislative advocacy.
Assistance is provided in the areas of family law, domestic violence and employment law. The Women’s Law Center operates hotlines that allow individuals to talk with an attorney who will help women understand their legal problems and inform them of community resources. Through legal representation projects, the Women’s Law Center helps women acquire a free lawyer to represent them and provides educational materials to educate women about the law and their rights.
The legislative advocacy of the Women’s Law Center has helped put women on corporate boards in Maryland, ensured equal access to health care, protected the rights of pregnant women in the workplace and so much more. As the challenges of child care continue to fall disproportionately on women, it is essential that, as young professional men and women, we think about ways to engage in and aid organizations that help ourselves and our colleagues feel supported in our many roles.
Michelle Siri, the executive director of the Women’s Law Center, emphasized the importance of the organization’s work during this time, “The current pandemic is highlighting and compounding issues we have been fighting against for decades. The disparities in physical safety and employment opportunities for women — in particular women of color, foreign-born women, and women working in low-wage positions — have increased exponentially over the past six months. Yes, we have come a long way, but we have a lot of work remaining to close the gaps in equality.”
Through pro bono opportunities, legislative engagement, and so many other opportunities, young professionals should think about involvement in this organization and others that help address challenges women continue to face.
As we reflect on a century of women’s right to vote, we should also reflect on what that means today and how we can engage in organizations that seek to achieve the societal cures for what voting rights alone cannot remedy.