Today marks Women's Equality Day, and while there is so much to celebrate in terms of how far we've come we cannot deny that no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030, a goal outlined by the United Nations member countries back in 2015.
Five years later, we find ourselves in a strange place in history. The United States has just celebrated the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave (some) women the right to vote and President Trump recently pardoned Susan B. Anthony, but on the second night of the Republican National Committee Convention, many social media users were talking about one RNC's speaker's idea to undo a century of (slow and sometimes painful) progress and get women out of the polls.
When activist Abby Johnson took the stage during the RNC, her support for "head of household" voting took the stage on social media.
Back in May, Johnson tweeted: "I would support bringing back household voting," which, as The 19th* explains would "would permit only the head of a household—and not all household members who are citizens over 18 years of age—to cast a ballot. Johnson believes the male member of the household would be the de facto decision maker."
As her RNC speech aired on Tuesday, Johnson was defending head of household voting on social media, tweeting that she would "never try to prevent women from voting" but that she would prefer a system where a husband, as the head of the home, would cast the vote for his wife and family (a system that ignore the fact that there are plenty of households and marriages that don't have husbands in them, or have two).
As Johnson's comments stoked controversy President Trump's campaign explained that he "supports the sacred principle of one person, one vote" but the conversation about "head of household" voting shows just how important talking about women's equality is now in 2020.
The United States ranks 53rd on the Global Gender Gap Index—and 86th when you break it down by political empowerment.
In Washington, at home and in the workplace, American women are still not treated equally. Women are doing more unpaid labor and seeing smaller paychecks.
According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) analysis of U.S. Census data, mothers only make about $0.71 to a dad's $1 (that's even worse than the wage gap between women and men, by as much as $0.10).
Women are hurt by inequality, but so are men. Fathers report that they desperately want more time with their children but feel they can't take time off because they feel so much pressure to be a good breadwinner.
As Motherly has previously reported, "Gender inequality can breed resentment in heterosexual marriages. Some fathers feel resentment because they get little or no parental leave after becoming dads, and mothers can grow resentful if they are shouldering all the household responsibilities and sacrificing their careers."
In the 2020 election, women's votes will matter
Abby Johnson's RNC appearance got a lot of people talking about "head of household" voting, but that's not really a threat. Women voters have outnumbered men in every presidential election since 1984 and they're not going anywhere.
The threat (to both Presidential candidates, at least) are these women and how they feel about living in a country where they don't get equal pay or access to resources that would level the playing field, like paid family leave. Americans don't live in Johnson's fantasy world where wives have to agree with their husbands vote—but we do live in a reality where women voters are plenty mad and ready to exercise their hard-fought right to the ballot.
But according to Howard University political science professor Dr. Keesha Middlemass, it's a mistake to view women as a monolith block of voters.
"Women want policies: 'how are you going to make my life better?' well, that requires policy," Dr. Middlemass told Scripps' reporter. Maya Rodriguez. "But that whole idea of gender politics is going to be very evident in getting out the vote."
As other countries have demonstrated, policy is how you get closer to equality.
According to the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Gender Gap Report it's going to take 100 more years to achieve gender parity, something UN countries signed on to do in 10.
It may take 100 years, but women in the United States are not going to give up fighting for equality, and they're not going to give up the vote, either.