Guest Columnist Jackie Fetbroyt’s – Women’s History Month

Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been our annual observance to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. The month-long celebration is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments, but also the struggles, of women. During WHM we highlight the all-too-often overlooked contributions of women to society. It’s an opportunity to educate people about the role that women have played throughout history, and inspire future generations of women, and address ongoing issues of gender inequality.

This year, Mayor Mignogna has once again offered this platform for me to share my thoughts on WHM and, coincidentally, the Voorhees Rotary Breakfast Club honored me as Business Personof the Year Award this month.  Drafting this, then, I can’t help but think of the contributions of women from the perspective of a working mom.

For a working mom, WHM can be an opportunity to recognize the trailblazing women who have paved the way for her in her career, as well as to acknowledge the many women who continue to work tirelessly to promote women and opportunity workplace. It can also be a time to reflect on her own experiences as a working mother, and to celebrate the ways in which she has managed to balance her professional and personal responsibilities. And, it can be a time to consider challenges working moms still face.

Over the last 20 years, women have taken more seats in many professions: for example, the proportion of women in computer and mathematical sciences increased 4% and by 6% in engineering; women physicians rose by 8%; more women than men graduate law school; and the number of women in the United States Congress has doubled.  But, as Disraeli said, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Despite the progress women have made over the last two decades, much work remains to be done. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an often unrecognized, but significant hurdle women in particular face: the excessive and gender-specific burden of “invisible labor” – the unpaid and often undervalued work that women perform in their households, offices, and communities, such as caregiving, housekeeping, emotional labor, and volunteer work. While this work is essential for the well-being of families and societies, it is often taken for granted. And it is almost always unpaid. Women’s invisible labor can be particularly challenging for those who are also employed outside the home, as they must balance their paid work with their unpaid responsibilities. Moreover, this type of work can lead to gender inequalities in terms of career opportunities, financial security, and social recognition. Recognizing and valuing women’s invisible labor is crucial for achieving gender equality and promoting the well-being of families and communities.

Women’s History Month should be a powerful reminder of the importance of supporting and empowering women in all areas of life, and of the ongoing work that is needed to achieve gender equality. Consider supporting organizations that promote women’s efforts in your area, or those that work globally – particularly where basic human rights are not afforded to women and girls.