There have been many brave women over the years that have played imperative roles in the gender equality movement. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of those women. Earlier this month, Ginsburg received the impressive Radcliffe Medal at a Harvard luncheon. She took the opportunity to share some powerful insight for young women everywhere.
“Young women today have a great advantage, and it is that there are no more closed doors. That was basically what the 70s was all about… Opening doors that had been closed to women,” shared Ginsburg.
Ginsburg has been fighting for women’s rights since the 1970s, when she founded the Women’s Rights Project with the ACLU. She also represented several women in landmark cases, which resulted in significant positive changes.
When referring to the struggle of the women’s rights movement in the 70s, Ginsburg said, “The object was to get at a stereotype that held women back from doing whatever their talent would allow them to do. The notion was that there were separate spheres for the sexes. Men were the doers in the world and women were the stay-at-home types.”
One of Ginsburg’s most memorable cases was Reed vs. Reed in 1971. It was an Equal Protection case that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that the administrators of estates can’t be named in a way that discriminates based on gender.
You could say that Ginsburg’s fight for women’s rights came full circle in 1993 when she became the second women to ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. Just over 30 years earlier, in 1960, the Dean of Harvard Law denied her a clerkship position based on her gender.
At the Harvard luncheon earlier this month, Ginsburg was asked what advice she had for young women. What she said was profound: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
What We Can Learn From Ginsburg’s Story
One person really can make a difference.
In today’s world, it is easy to wonder if one person can really make a difference when it comes to huge issues like gender equality, world hunger, the water crisis, and more. It can take a team effort to tackle huge issues, Ginsburg’s story reminds us that one person’s life and actions really can make a difference. Let’s encourage our daughters to stand firm for what they believe in, and remind them that they really can make a difference.
You have to turn your pain into purpose.
What would have happened if Ginsburg had just given up after she was rejected for the clerkship position in 1960? Nothing. Instead of allowing the pain to defeat her, she used it as fuel for her greater purpose. We have the opportunity to teach our daughters that there will always be barriers but we get to choose how if we let them stop us. We have the power to rise above whatever stands in our way.
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