Our Quote of the Week comes on the heels of International Women's Day and marks one of many occasions when Sargent Shriver stood up for equality between women and men.
With a speech that continues to be relevant today, Sargent Shriver addressed the Women's Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California during the early days of his 1976 Presidential campaign. He lists a set of "women's issues" he would focus on as President, including lack of equal representation in the workforce, lack of pay equity, gender discrimination, rape legislation, maternity leave, child care, and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (which, to this day, has still not been ratified in 15 states).
It's notable that in the speech, Sargent Shriver says: "There really is no such thing as a 'women's issue' that isn't also a 'men's issue.' [...] Real equality would be as liberating
for men as for women -- and don't I know that. Men are imprisoned by the
very stereotypes that oppress women. The economic rat race and the
macho model are the other side of the male dominance coin. What's
involved in this struggle is no less than the most profound of all
questions -- what does it mean to be a human being?" In these words, we witness Sargent Shriver's challenge to a status quo that limits all of us as human beings. And it is because "women's issues" also impact men, that he asserts that "the women's movement must be America's movement."
Fueling Sargent Shriver, as always, is his sense of justice. As he says, at the root of the struggle for equality is the question of what it means to be human. The implication here is that all human beings have the same need for dignity, justice, and liberty. Sargent Shriver's sense of justice drove him throughout his life in service, from the 1950s, during a push for civil rights that led to the desegregation of schools in Chicago, to the 1960s,when he created the War on Poverty programs to expand economic opportunity and legal services for all Americans, and beyond.
Throughout March, we're celebrating Women's History Month. We invite you to read Sargent Shriver's Address to the Women Leadership Conference, which stands as an important reminder that in the fight for equality, we must work together, women and men, to achieve our goals.