by Lyndsey Pecker, NCJW Legislative Intern
My first task at my summer internship with NCJW was to familiarize myself with Title IX, in honor of its upcoming 40th anniversary on June 23, 2012. As I began to research this pivotal law — sorting through the thousands of pictures and articles celebrating women’s participation in collegiate sports — I realized the tremendous extent to which I take my ability to play sports for granted. I never believed that my gender could prevent me from participating in athletic events or that my childhood dream of playing sports at the university level could be stymied simply because of my sex. Today, for millions of women like me, life without Title IX is unthinkable. And it’s more than just sports.
Title IX goes well beyond women’s participation in athletics. Title IX is about guaranteeing equal opportunity for women. It has made it possible for a woman to get the health care she needs, to stand up for herself when she feels she isn’t being treated with the same respect as a male counterpart, and to reach the top of her field in whatever industry she chooses.
Because of Title IX, I have never been told I was forbidden to do something because I am a woman. That’s why, for me, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX is more than just a recognition of the tremendous progress our nation has made towards a more equal society, it is also a reminder that I am lucky to be part of the Millennial Generation. I am truly grateful for all of the powerful women who came before me and fought for these freedoms that have shaped my life as a woman.
However, despite the progress we’ve made, I also know that the battle for full equality is far from over. Gender inequities remain in the workplace (women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male co-workers!) and some of our nation’s leaders insist on denying women the right to make personal healthcare decisions. Globally, there are many nations in which women are still not given the respect and opportunity that they deserve. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Title IX sets a precedent, empowering women to empower themselves; echoing the message that hard work and resiliency are powerful enough tools to change norms, mentalities, and most importantly, the status quo.