The 40th anniversary of Title IX and the women’s history 2012 theme of
education and empowerment provide all Americans an opportunity to honor the
contributions of millions of mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters.
The correlation between education and empowerment of women must keep being
recognized, for today many young women take for granted their right for an equal
opportunity to learn and to vote. Equality in education today is owed primarily
to Title IX, not passed until 1972 and not implemented until 1977. The
legislation prohibited gender discrimination in federally funded institutions.
The impact transformed the educational landscape and opened doors for women to
participate equally in all aspects of education -- including sports -- within
the span of a generation.
Education of women is the primary tool for empowerment today. In days gone
by, it was deemed by "experts" that women were incapable of intellectual
development equal to men. Women's supposed moral weakness was also used as an
argument against co-education. Hmm … is this sounding a little like the rhetoric
we are hearing today in the news, coming from our elected male officials and
Women now make up more than 57 percent of the college-bound population and
the majority in graduate schools. At Harvard, a longtime male-dominated bastion,
50 percent of the students today are women, with 55 percent graduating with
With the U.S. population now having women as a majority at 50.8 percent, why
are there only 17 percent holding office in Congress and 22 percent in the
Nebraska Legislature? Could the educational trends possibly have a threatening
effect on the men who are now trying to backpedal women’s rights by voting
against legislation to mandate equality in the workplace and by taking away our
I do know that until something is done to level the playing field in politics
so that women have an equal chance to make gains in our elected offices, such as
Title IX has done in education for women, there will continue to be a failure to
ensure women's right to equal pay and equal health care. Good legislation will
be targeted for defunding, legislation that protects us such as the Violence
Against Women Act. As long as we sit by silently, the rhetoric will continue to
escalate as well as the willingness of these elected officials to turn back the
clock by taking away programs that have helped women make those gains today.
And don’t be fooled into believing all women candidates are representing our
voices. I wrote to both Nebraska U.S. Senate candidates to ask for their stances
on these issues; Sen. Bob Kerrey was the only one to respond in support of all
of these issues. Sen. Deb Fischer only sent negative ads back to me in response,
Money may talk and control candidates, but women have a majority of the
votes. We can control the future by staying educated and voting for those
candidates who support our issues.
Mary Herres is a grant writer involved in community and rural economic
development and is an advocate for women's rights.