The political progress women have made — and what’s next | Cecile Richards

Nearly 100 years ago, almost today, most women in the United States
finally won the right to vote. Now, it would take decades more
for women of color to earn that right, and we’ve come a long way since, but I would argue not nearly far enough. I think what women want today, not just only in the United States
but around the globe, is to no longer be an afterthought. We don’t want to continue to try to,
like, look at the next 100 years and be granted, grudgingly,
small legal rights and accommodations. We simply want true and full equality. I think that women are tired
of retrofitting ourselves into institutions and governments
that were built by men, for men, and we’d rather reshape the future
on our own terms. I believe — (Applause) I believe what we need is a women’s
political revolution for full equality across race, across class,
across gender identity, across sexual orientation, and yes, across political labels, because I believe what binds us
together as women is so much more profound
than what keeps up apart. And so I’ve given some thought about how to build
this women’s political revolution and that’s what I want
to talk to you about today. (Cheers) (Applause) The good news is that one thing
that hasn’t changed in the last century is women’s resilience and our commitment to build
a better life not only for ourselves, but for generations to come, because I can’t think of a single woman who wants her daughter to have fewer rights
or opportunities than she’s had. So we know we all stand on the shoulders
of the women who came before us, and as for myself, I come from a long line
of tough Texas women. (Cheers) My grandparents
lived outside of Waco, Texas, in the country. And when my grandmother got pregnant, of course she was not going
to go to the hospital to deliver, she was going to have that baby at home. But when she went into labor, she called the neighbor woman over
to cook dinner for my grandfather, because … I mean, it was unthinkable that he
was going to make supper for himself. (Laughter) Been there. (Laughter) The neighbor had no experience
with killing a chicken, and that was what was planned
for dinner that night. And so as the story goes, my grandmother,
in the birthing bed, in labor, hoists herself up on one elbow
and wrings that chicken’s neck, right? And that is how my mother
came into this world. (Laughter) (Applause) But the amazing thing is, even though my mother’s own grandmother
could not vote in Texas, because under Texas law, “idiots, imbeciles, the insane and women” were prevented the franchise — just two generations later, my mother, Ann Richards, was elected
the first woman governor in her own right in the state of Texas. (Applause and cheers) But you see, when Mom
was coming up in Texas, there weren’t a lot
of opportunities for women, and frankly, she spent her entire life
trying to change that. She used to like to say, “As women, if you just give
us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers
did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards
and in high heels.” Right? And honestly, that’s kind of what women
have been doing for this last century: despite having very, very little
political power, we have made enormous progress. So today in the United States, 100 years after getting the right to vote, women are almost half the workforce. And in 40 percent
of families with children, women are the major breadwinners. Economists even estimate that if every single paid working woman
took just one day off of work, it would cost the United States
21 billion dollars in gross domestic product. Now, largely because of Title IX,
which required educational equity, women are actually now half
the college students in the United States. We’re half the medical students,
we’re half the law students — Exactly. (Applause) And a fact I absolutely love: One of the most recent classes of
graduating NASA astronauts was … What? For the first time, 50 percent women. (Applause and cheers) The point is that women
are really changing industries, they’re changing business
from the inside out. But when it comes to government,
it’s another story, and I actually think a picture
is worth 1000 words. This is a photograph from 2017
at the White House when congressional leaders
were called over to put the final details into the health-care reform bill
that was to go to Congress. Now, one of the results of this meeting was that they got rid
of maternity benefits, which may not be that surprising, since no one at that table
actually would need maternity benefits. And unfortunately,
that’s what we’ve learned the hard way in the US for women. If we’re not at the table,
we’re on the menu, right? And we’re simply not at enough tables, because even though women
are the vast majority of voters in the United States, we fall far behind the rest of the world
in political representation. Recent research is that when
they ranked all the countries, the United States is 104th
in women’s representation in office. 104th … Right behind Indonesia. So is it any big surprise, then, considering who’s making decisions, we’re the only developed country
with no paid family leave? And despite all the research
and improvements we’ve made in medical care — and this is really horrifying to me — the United States now leads the developed
world in maternal mortality rates. Now, when it comes to equal pay,
we’re not doing a whole lot better. Women now, on average,
in the United States, still only make 80 cents
to the dollar that a man makes. Though if you’re
an African American woman, it’s 63 cents to the dollar. And if you’re Latina,
it’s 54 cents to the dollar. It’s an outrage. Now, women in the UK, the United Kingdom, just came up with something
I thought was rather ingenious, in order to illustrate
the impact of the pay gap. So, starting November 10
and going through the end of the year, they simply put an out-of-office
memo on their email to indicate all the weeks
they were working without pay. Right? I think it’s an idea
that actually could catch on. But imagine if women
actually had political power. Imagine if we were at the table,
making decisions. Imagine if we had our own
women’s political party that instead of putting our issues
to the side as distractions, made them the top priority. Well, we know — research shows
that when women are in office, they actually act differently than men. They collaborate more
with their colleagues, they work across party lines, and women are much more likely
to support legislation that improves access to health care,
education, civil rights. And what we’ve seen in our research
in the United States Congress is that women sponsor more legislation and they cosponsor more legislation. So all the evidence is that when women
actually have the chance to serve, they make a huge difference
and they get the job done. So how would it look in the United States
if different people were making decisions? Well, I firmly believe
if half of Congress could get pregnant, we would finally quit fighting
about birth control and Planned Parenthood. (Applause and cheers) That would be over. (Applause) I also really believe that finally, businesses might quit
treating pregnancy as a nuisance, and rather understand it
as a primary medical issue for millions of American workers. And I think if more women were in office, our government would actually prioritize
keeping families together rather than pulling them apart. (Applause) But perhaps most importantly, I think all of these issues would
no longer be seen as “women’s issues.” They would just be seen as basic issues
of fairness and equality that everybody can get behind. So I think the question is, what would it take, actually, to build
this women’s political revolution? The good news is, actually,
it’s already started. Because women around the globe
are demanding workplaces, they’re demanding
educational institutions, they’re demanding governments where sexism and sexual harassment
and sexual assault are neither accepted nor tolerated. Women around the world, as we know, are raising their hands
and saying, “Me Too,” and it’s a movement
that’s made so much more powerful by the fact that women
are standing together across industries, from domestic workers
to celebrities in Hollywood. Women are marching, we’re sitting in, we’re speaking up. Women are challenging the status quo, we’re busting old taboos and yes, we are proudly making trouble. So, women in Saudi Arabia
are driving for the very first time. (Applause and cheers) Women in Iraq are standing in solidarity
with survivors of human trafficking. And women from El Salvador to Ireland
are fighting for reproductive rights. And women in Myanmar
are standing up for human rights. In short, I think the most profound
leadership in the world isn’t coming from halls of government. It’s coming from women
at the grassroots all across the globe. (Applause) And here in the United States,
women are on fire. So a recent Kaiser poll reported that since our last presidential
election in 2016, one in five Americans have either marched
or taken part in a protest, and the number one issue
has been women’s rights. Women are starting new organizations, they are volunteering on campaigns, and they’re taking on every issue from gun-safety reform
to public education. And women are running for office
in record numbers, and they are winning. So — (Laughs) (Applause) Women like Lucy McBath from Georgia. (Applause and cheers) Lucy lost her son to gun violence, and it was because of her experience
with the criminal justice system that she realized just how broken it is, and she decided to do
something about that. So she ran for office, and this January, she’s going to Congress. OK? Or — (Applause) Angie Craig from Minnesota. (Applause and cheers) So her congressman had made
such hateful comments about LGBTQ people that she decided to challenge him. And you know what? She did, and she won, and when she goes to Congress in January, she’ll be the first lesbian mother
serving in the House of Representatives. (Applause and cheers) Or — (Applause) Or Lauren Underwood from Illinois. She’s a registered nurse, and she sees every day the impact
that lack of health care access has on the community where she lives, and so she decided to run. She took on six men in her primary,
she beat them all, she won the general election, and when she goes to Congress in January, she’s going to be the first
African-American woman ever to serve her district in Washington, D.C. (Applause and cheers) So women are recognizing — this is our moment. Don’t wait for permission, don’t wait for your turn. As the late, great
Shirley Chisholm said — Shirley Chisholm, the first
African-American woman ever to go to Congress and the first woman to run for president
in the Democratic party — but Shirley Chisholm said, “If there’s no room for you at the table,
just pull up a folding chair.” And that’s what women are doing,
all across the country. I believe women are now the most
important and powerful political force in the world, but how do we make sure
that this is not just a moment? What we need is actually a global movement
for women’s full equality that is intersectional
and it’s intergenerational, where no one gets left behind. And so I have a few ideas
about how we could do that. Number one: it’s not enough to resist. It’s not enough to say what we’re against. It’s time to be loud and proud
about what we are for, because being for full equality
is a mainstream value and something that we can get behind. Because actually, men support
equal pay for women. Millennials, they support gender equality. And businesses are increasingly adopting
family-friendly policies, not just because
it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good for their workers. It’s good for their business. Number two: We have to remember,
in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, that “nobody’s free
’til everybody’s free.” So as I mentioned earlier, women of color in this country
didn’t even get the right to vote until much further along
than the rest of us. But since they did,
they are the most reliable voters, and women of color are the most
reliable voters for candidates who support women’s rights, and we need to follow their lead — (Applause and cheers) Because their issues are our issues. And as white women, we have to do more, because racism and sexism and homophobia, these are issues that affect all of us. Number three: we’ve got to vote
in every single election. Every election. And we’ve got to make it easier
for folks to vote, and we’ve got to make sure
that every single vote is counted, OK? (Applause and cheers) Because the barriers that exist
to voting in the United States, they fall disproportionately on women — women of color, women with low incomes, women who are working
and trying to raise a family. So we need to make it easier
for everyone to vote, and we can start by making
Election Day a federal holiday in the United States of America. (Applause and cheers) Number four: don’t wait for instructions. If you see a problem that needs fixing, I think you’re the one to do it, OK? So start a new organization,
run for office. Or maybe it’s as simple as standing up
on the job in support of yourself or your coworkers. This is up to all of us. And number five:
invest in women, all right? (Applause) Invest in women as candidates,
as changemakers, as leaders. Just as an example, in this last election cycle
in the United States, women donated 100 million dollars more
to candidates and campaigns than they had just two years ago, and a record number of women won. So just think about that. (Applause and cheers) So look, sometimes I think
that the challenges we face, they seem overwhelming and they seem like they almost
can never be solved, but I think the problems
that seem the most intractable are the ones that are most
important to work on. And just because it hasn’t been
figured out yet doesn’t mean you won’t. After all, if women’s work were easy, someone else would have
already been doing it, right? (Laughter) But women around the globe,
they’re on the move, and they are taking strengths
and inspiration from each other. They are doing things
they never could have imagined. So if we could just take
the progress we have made in joining the workforce, in joining business, in joining the educational system, and actually channel that
into building true political power, we will reshape this century, because one of us can be ignored, two of us can be dismissed, but together, we’re a movement, and we’re unstoppable. Thank you. (Applause and cheers) Thank you. (Applause)

Maurice Vega

80 Responses

  1. In the future it will be astonishing that fathers and husbands would not want total equality for the female half of the family unit. Is fair play so hard to understand when it benefits your own family? It astonishes me now. But I do enjoy the triggered, knee-jerk, can-can of those particular males.

  2. ".. women's equality across race.. across class.. across "

    wai.. wait wait. holup a minute. There isn't equality amongst men and women across races and classes, heck there isn't even the same inequality amongst different groups for even more insignificant things like clothing/style choices and this is also not even consistent across countries, white farmers are killed in South Africa for being white, there are blacks in America wanting safe spaces segregation!

    Don't you think it's really rude to go on about your smaller scale problem when there is a bigger issue not even close to being resolved? It's like I go to cancer patients and start talking about some minor illnesses only people like me that eat a lot of spaghetti or what ever get.

    Meanwhile suicide rates are higher on men, breast cancer prevention is the most funded of all cancer preventions and not even the most lethal, let alone the fact men can't even get checked for it by the same laws women get to be tested.. Female to male rapes are a joke and there is no way a single father with a child can ask for an asylum like women do, if he could get custody from an abusive mother in the first place that is..

  3. It's a DEMOCRACY, and almost 50% of the population are women. If people think a women is a better leader, they will vote accordingly. You need to earn that place. It will not be given because you are a women.

  4. I love how none of the quotes listed in the comments span past the first two minutes, hmmm it's almost as if all these people disliking the video didn't bother to watch it and instead used it as a platform to spread their toxic misogynistic views. At least we know what the people who preemptively destroyed the Captain Marvel Rotten Tomatoes page are up to this week.

    I think women have been sorely mistreated and the underlying misogyny that's rampant in this somewhat modern somewhat progressive society is disgusting.

  5. Equality in every domain? So you think there need to be more women working in mines, on the front lines, on oil platforms and landfills ?

  6. Hmm, has Ted talks become a platform for politics? Where we supposed to learn something or was this just a political rally? I used to expect deep insights derived from since on this channel.

  7. The descent into tribalism and the decay of civilization,
    because that's the problem gender roles solved.
    A feminist society creates a society where men are competing with men, women are competing with women, men and women are competing with each other.
    I'm not saying the roles were perfect, they can be altered, but their existence is necessary.

  8. All these pathetic hateful men in the comments just gives me more motivation to be a badass woman and be involved in changing laws to protect women. Men act like they are being attacked just because women are talking about being a woman.

  9. "If we're not at the table, we're on the menu" this is why we need more women in politics, men will take away all our rights if we don't start making the rules. This almost makes me want to change my major to political science

  10. Men in the comment sections of videos about equality and feminism always somehow prove those videos correct in how we absolutely need equality and feminism.

    It's almost as if they can't help but prove us right… can't even stay quiet for their own cause. lol

  11. lol at all the people in the comments pretending this is a zero sum game. Progress makes all of us better, don't pretend the fight for equal rights is women asking to be given shit for free, or taking things away from you.

  12. Raising a child is less important than building a factory?
    The biggest status and career for women is motherhood.
    Our future depends on mothers raising their children well.
    Capitalism wants you to search the truth in the wrong place.
    Please don't be biased and think deeply.

  13. It's amazing how far we've come in such a short period of time. I'm looking forward to see how the brave women of today will change the course of future! 🙂

  14. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I was raised to never hit a woman. True equality says shes the same as a man so here come knuckles. You cant claim true equality with a double standard nor cherry picking.

  15. You know in my twenties I was all for equity between the sexes and helping women become more than they were (as I would do for anyone)
    Ive just turned towards late thirties and now I’m tired of trying to help you be happy. It is never enough and I have so little to give now.
    I’m just going to focus on my wife and two daughters.

  16. she did not mention the fact that she really needs a man as a single unmarried woman.
    Women should understand that men are in power for their own benefits and instead of trying to compete with us they should support us by raising our kids with good manners.

  17. All these gender/race videos are starting to get boring. We get it.. white men are evil and all other people know better. Leave it to the politics. Go back to actually interesting videos TED.

  18. Can we stop the men vs women thing ? Law supports total equality already in most developed countries, if anything goes wrong about that you are supposed to report it no matter your gender. Anyone interested into a job already have equal chances to get it (otherwise someone is acting against the law). Girls these days are no longer educated with the housewife life in mind. Just give it some time and everyone will find their place of choice. Probably we won't have the 50/50 repartition everywhere and that's not a problem. Men are on average more driven by competition than women, so of course they will be more numerous than women where there is some challenge, and that does not have to be a problem, mean that we are not equal or that women have to be excluded.

  19. As a society becomes more egalitarian, the biological differences between men and women magnify. It’s a settled science and has been replicated.

  20. USA is in decline and NOTHING will stop it unless men take pu$$y privilege away !!! China is the NEW upcoming Super power !!!

  21. women in politics, political progress, i'm all about it… let's elect our first female president of the united states!

  22. 50/50 women and men in university? umm, no, women are around 60-70%. So what will you do about that feminism?

  23. Now that women are such a large part of the American Workforce the children of those women have gone through a lot of neglect because the natural family order is destroyed


  25. Name one right a man has that a women doesn’t. I’ll wait

    What does she mean we don’t have equality? Feminism should leave America and go to the Middle East where they actually need it.

  26. The pay gap myth has been refuted over and over again, and yet it is still parroted by so many. You cannot just compare the average total earnings of all men by that of all women. It doesn't account for position, experience, productivity, hours worked, and so on. No business owner in their right mind would hire men to do the same job as women if they can pay women less.

    * obviously, there are still some situations where equally qualified people in the same position are not payed comparable wages, but people that do such an abhorred practice are certainly not going to change their ways because of people perpetuating this nonsense. Even still, the same thing happens among people of the same gender. Pay is a contract negotiation that some people are better at than others. Personally, I have been payed less than others for doing the same thing because I was happy to take what I could get while others fought for more.

  27. You seem to believe that all men are against issues that primarily (directly) affect women or families, and that all women will vote the same way you will (and if not, they must have internalized misogyny). I don't want men in power any more than I want women in power. I want qualified people in power, and I strongly agree there are plenty of men and women currently in power who are hardly qualified (yes, more men, because there are more men in power).

    I don't believe electing more women just because they are not men will increase the over all competence. There is no room for "it's your turn to deal with it" sort of approaches to our problems.

  28. My grandmother and mother were two of the most intelligent and powerful people I've ever known. Neither were formally educated or held any sort of a powerful position. They fought for what the had and never let their gender stop them. I'm proud of the work they did, the legacy they left, and progress that has since been made.

    With that said, my mother has been appalled by the public treatment of men by prominent women and the idea that because women were oppressed for so long, it's fair to turn the table on men – a sort of "sins of the father" reaction. I am happy to see more women engaging in the political arena, but to support them for their gender alone is lunacy.

  29. I've always been confused on the notion that election day being a federal holiday would make it easier for women/minority groups to vote. I agree on the basic principle, but it would make it easier for everyone to vote EXCEPT those people who do not get to take off work during federal holidays. Even if government mandated that every walmart and mcdonalds close for the day, you still have to have emergency personnel (like my amazing wife, a labor nurse) and other mission critical facilities.

    Our local polling place doesn't open early enough or stay open late enough for her to vote if she's scheduled to work, and their lunch breaks are not guaranteed due to the possibility of new patients at any time, so she has to find someone else to cover for her long enough to go do it.

    Also, you said it yourself that women vote more than men, so there's obviously not that big of a problem currently, aside from general apathy.

  30. Great topic, but poor presentation. To speak in a prestigious forum, more effective presenters rely on expertise and experience to deliver their messages – rather than rely on a teleprompter.

  31. Her mom had no opportunities in her life….uh, she became governor of Texas. Yeah, like no opportunities. Conservatives have no heart … liberals have no brain.

  32. THE COLUMBINE SHOOTERS MOM GETS A CLIP. That loser should be jailed! No comments allowed so I'll leave a comment on every video! DO NOT CELEBRATE LOSER PARENTS THAT STOOD IN THE WAY OF HELP, when parents are responsible for their kids actions then we will see less death! SICKENING TO APPLAUD COLUMBINES SHOOTERS MOM SHAME,

  33. This talk is so politically, stupidly, and SJW agenda driven…Enough with your Identity politics. Stop playing the victim card and acting like there aren't women in power already. There were for decades, or even centuries if you count queens. But I guess since you're too busy demonizing men and society because you feel like you've been treated unfairly(your problem and no one else's), it couldn't be helped but to overlook that simple historical fact. But that's just part of the agenda pushing and brainwashing, am I right? Also, there are plenty of jobs and positions for women. You just have to work at earning them and show that you aren't a toxic man hating feminist. Don't earn them by attacking the current position holder and destroying their career and life by falsely accusing them with fake allegations from your toxic and unreal "metoo" movement. Would you still call it equal equality for both genders if you run all or most of the men out of the workforce? Of course you would because it's all a part of your toxic agenda and you would act like you did nothing wrong.

    Plus, just some bits of the talk was just cleary pondering to minorities and illegal migrants to make them political pawns for the left and the dems. In fact, they really trully don't care for them. Thay only want their votes to keep themselves in power. That's the sad reality of it.

  34. Women were given the vote without the responsibility. Men go to war and women vote on what they want being the new vast majority. You didn’t go for equality you went for supremacy. That’s why feminism is sexist

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