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One Voice: Connecting the Dots for Gender Equity and Social Change


I was perplexed by two serendipitous, timely ideas. that made me laugh, at first, and then realize the poignancy of it all related gender parity – an issue that will evade me in my lifetime.

 

1.    One Voice: Barry Manilow, born June 17, 1943, will be coming to concert in my town next month. Manilow is a mature and very talented singer and songwriter with a number of well- known tunes including catchy commercial jingles. My mother and mother-in-law -- both passed away -- were huge fans and listened to his records during our formative years, so much so that we know a lot of his songs.



 

When I told my husband we should go as a tribute to our moms, he gave me a blank stare; I mean his mom was officially in the Barry Manilow fan club! I think he got a little too much Barry growing up, however, as he said, “NO thanks!” 

 

It did make me think of my favorite Manilow tune – “One Voice,” a song about solidarity, and the idea that it only takes one person to speak up and spark positive change.


2.    An article: About 10 minutes later I read an article by  Esther Kezia Thorpe – Independent Media Reporter @EstherKeziaT titled, “Young people diverge on gender equity. News leaders need to act.” 

Her first two paragraphs drew me in: “Something is shifting with Gen Z. Data from Gallup shows that in the US, women aged 18 to 30 are now thirty percentage points more liberal than men. That gap opened after decades of a roughly equal spread of worldviews. As media organizations seek to attract, engage, and retain younger audiences, understanding what drives them and accurately representing them will be essential. However, as the news media struggles with increased polarization on many fronts, it appears that gender equity is rising on the list of contentious topics. 

 

This divide is a result, and signal of, something more than young women simply becoming increasingly liberal. Research from King’s College London in February showed that, specifically when it comes to attitudes to masculinity and women’s equality, there is a growing division. In some cases, young men today are no more supportive of action on gender equality than older men, despite generally being more socially liberal.”


As a mom of two women and two men, between the ages of 20 and 30, and someone who writes about gender equity, I paused, and then thought maybe I need to add Barry Manilow’s “One Voice” to my Spotify playlist and share it with my adult kids.

 

Thorpe’s article cited The Missing Perspectives of Women in News report that included a sobering data point that I also found in the research I did for my book, “Men-In-The-Middle: Conversations to Gain Momentum with Gender Equity’s Silent Majority:” a growing viewpoint across all groups is that feminism has gone too far and equity has been achieved.  This is higher among Gen Z men.



Wait, what? Whose voice are these men listening too?  Again, my sons are in this group, so I am not blaming as much as working to raise my voice for social change.

 

A Good Reminder: Fighting Complacency is the Way Forward

 

As I reflected on Thorpe’s article, and questioned the influence on my own sons, I had to look in the mirror at my own complacency. Afterall, I took five years to write a nonfiction book about gender equity. I interviewed men about gender equity and did extensive secondary research, both academic and mainstream, to back up the insights I gleaned in the interviews. Thorpe’s writing spoke to me and even jogged my memory; I found this trend in my own research, the belief that feminism has gone too far.  I am not sure I even know what that means.

 

I do know that it is important to get the facts out there.  A number of men who have read my book tell me that they learned a lot, especially about the status of the Equal Rights Amendment, also known as the ERA. The ERA is more than 100 years in the making, and the status of the constitutional amendment is unknown as of today. I spend a few pages laying out the path of the proposed 28th Amendment. And you can read a 2024 update here in this Ms. Magazine story.

 

In short, passing an amendment requires a number of timely milestones, a percentage of states ratifying the amendment and more steps. Some states have passed laws that prevent discrimination based on sex, but it is not a federal law. The benefits of these changes would protect both men and women.

 

When we assume we have certain benefits and rights, it is time to fight complacency and raise your voice.  There is no guarantee when we don’t use our one voice to make change that we take for granted.

 

In light of this, let me take a moment to recite and remind people of the facts that lead me to say emphatically NO, that we have NOT taken feminism too far; especially the way that I define feminism as a rising tide that lifts all boats.

 

It is all in the facts from the economic forum.

 

Gender Parity is More than a Century Away

 

Last week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released the 2024 Global Gender Report Briefing, which includes an update on the Global Gender Gap Index. This index benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four dimensions, Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and the Political Environment. According to WEF, it is the longest-standing index tracking the progress of numerous countries’ efforts towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

 

It will take 134 years to reach gender parity, according to the latest Gender Gap Report. At this rate, it would mean that my great grandkids might see signs of it as they turn close to my age now. Newsflash, as this point, I don’t even have grandchildren, so we are talking a long time from now.  This is in line with the findings of the latest report.



Sons and daughters, mine, and others, it is time to raise our voice. Learn the facts and change the narrative; Feminism has not gone too far. We have a way to go.

 

In the words of Barry Manilow, it takes just “One Voice.” Please, be that one voice.

 

Lyrics of “One Voice,” by Barry Manilow

 

Just one voice

Singing in the darkness

All it takes is one voice

Singing so they hear what's on your mind

And when you look around you'll find

 

There's more than one voice

Singing in the darkness

Joining with your one voice

Each and every note or another octave

Hands are joined and fears unlocked

 

If only one voice would start it on it's own

We need just one voice facing the unknown

And then that one voice would never be alone

It takes that one voice

 

Ba, ba, ba, ba

Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba

Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba

It takes that one voice

Just one voice

Singing in the darkness

All it takes is one voice

Shout it out and let it ring

 

Just one voice

It takes that one voice

And everyone will sing

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