At a time when Broward County appoints its first Black female mayor and the nation is forced to pay close attention to the economic plight of the American woman, is it safe to say that we are just steps away from gender equality? On a national level, we celebrated a women-in-power paradigm shift and embraced the emergence of “female firsts,” such as General Motor’s new CEO Mary Barra, president of Harvard University Drew Gilpin Faust, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Hillary Clinton was only first lady to become a U.S. senator turned viable presidential candidate turned secretary of state. Sonia Sotomyer became the first Hispanic justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court while Rep. Nancy Pelosi was the first-ever to wield the U.S. House Speaker’s hammer.
Some critics argue that gender inequality is just a myth but the data proves otherwise. In Florida, women earn 83 cents for every dollar men earn. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg suggests women are less likely to “lean in” to raises and promotions even if factors like education, experience and performance are equal to their male counterparts. Addressing the achievement gap between men and women extends beyond the debate of dollars and cents. Unequal pay impacts women in nearly every occupation and even more so for women of color. While we applaud the notable accomplishments of women like Mayor Sharief, there is still much more to achieve for women’s empowerment.
The most effective way for a community to challenge income disparities and other political perils is by being election-ready.
Our community turned out in record numbers for the past two presidential elections. For those who think they can just take a break from the polls or that there isn’t much at stake, I urge them to reconsider. Our vote is crucial – it’s our opportunity to select the leadership of the area in which we live, work and play. Despite the significance of primary elections, history has demonstrated that a majority of voters don’t make it to the polls.
We can no longer afford to leave our futures to chance. There is a wealth of resources at our disposal – affording us the opportunity to make well-informed decisions. The Urban League of Broward County is just one of many local organizations that serves as open source for civic engagement. Led by the Urban League’s Young Professional Network, Broward Votes is an initiative that works in collaboration with community partners to host political forums and voter registration drives. The political forums focuses on electoral seats that encompass the Broward region so that officials and candidates don’t overlook the needs and concerns of residents who are most at risk, in need and disenfranchised. It is our hope that other organizations, churches and community leaders will work with us to impact all of Broward through county-wide civic engagement efforts.
The Baughtom Line is this: As we approach the primary elections on August 26, voters will play an important role in the outcomes of statewide and local legislation. The need for a stronger community voice is evident. If you’re concerned about key issues like gender equality, jobs, the economy, education, women's rights, health care, or immigration, make sure you vote.