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Men are important in the fight for women’s rights

Men are important in the fight for women’s rights

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Celebrate Women’s Equality Day every day like these local Columbus families

By Lindsey Escaja

To remind us of the struggles of women in the past, present, and future, Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971. Today, Women’s Equality Day celebrates the achievements of women’s rights activists, such as Abigail Adams, Frida Kahlo, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Sandra Day O’Connor. 

It’s also a day that reminds us that, despite the tremendous progress these trailblazers made in their fight for gender equality, women continue to face barriers at work and at home. This is where men have the opportunity to play a vital role in gender equality—particularly husbands and fathers. Melissa Gomes Blackburn, co-creator of Haven Collective, Columbus, said in her home, equality is a way of life. 

“Our relationship started out as coworkers with open communication around the topics of career aspirations and raising children,” said Blackburn. Her husband models the definition of what, she believes, manhood should include; celebrating your partners ambitions just as much if not more than their own. She also believes this behavior translates not only into parenting, but how our children view gender roles as they navigate life.

Photo courtesy Preston Perich

“Setting the tone and modeling equality both at home and in the community is a major component for how the men in our life can show up,” said Blackburn. “I am blessed to know my worth and have a husband who not only splits housework and childcare with me 50/50, but is also my number one advocate for my entrepreneurial success.”

Yasmine Robles, founder and creative director of Robles Designs, Columbus, said she and her husband follow a similar 50/50 dynamic in their household; which might seem like an oddity within the Latino culture where clear gender roles are defined from a very young age.

“I have often heard remarks on how interesting it is that my husband changed diapers or unique that he cooks—although he’s a better cook anyway—because the male is supposed to be the breadwinner in our culture,” she said. “It is a shame to have to navigate through these comments as a couple and for our daughters.”

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Robles said teaching equality to her children means pointing out what is wrong in the current culture when it comes to gender roles. It is presenting them with strong public role models, she said, adding that speaking out about our individual responsibilities as members of our community and within our households helps guide the vision of what equal work and equal pay should look like.

Robles also wants her daughters to have the same opportunities as any male counterpart, but she ensures she meets the conversation by where her children are at. For instance, her husband and she ask their daughters to count the number of women superheroes, business owners, and scientists to help them think outside the box when it comes to careers they can have when they are older. 

Naval Officer Van Crockett, Columbus, said he also strives to be an engaged father by helping his daughters not only think outside of the box, but step out of their comfort zones to get to that mindset.

“If my daughters want to be lawyers, I will be their biggest supporter, pushing them to the bar exam and even further pushing them to make partner at a law firm,” he said. “Point being: I want my daughters to feel empowered to know they have a man in their corner pushing them to break glass ceilings and make an impact like many women before them.

“I want my daughters to feel like they have the same opportunities as any man in the room regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, or any other barriers they already face just by being born Black,” said Crockett. “If they can’t, I would tell them to find a different room.”

Women’s Equality Day should happen every day of the year in conversations with our daughters, wives, sisters, girlfriends, mothers, friends, colleagues, not just on a Sunday, said Blackburn. She encourages 614 readers to use Women’s Equality Day as a reminder to do something meaningful for the important women in your life regularly and an opportunity to learn about the complicated and fascinating history of women’s rights. 

Share your Women’s Equality Day story by emailing us at [email protected]

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