The 18th September 2020 was a sad day for human kind and woman kind. The world lost an iconic figure, who will now go down in history as a warrior for gender equality and women's rights.
This article will no way do justice to the work and sacrifice that Justice Ginsburg did, nor the enormous impact her work had on the world, and changing the life of women for the better. Nevertheless we wanted to pay tribute to this extraordinary woman and list some of the accomplishments and changes she made that benefited woman-kind that you might not know about.
About Justice Ginsburg
Justice Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87.
She was born in 1933 in New York, Brooklyn in 1933, into the era of the Great Depression (1929 to 1941), where over 15 million Americans were jobless and most banks failed by 1933.
What a time for Justice Ginsburg to be born!
Due to the Great Depression more women entered the workforce because their husbands, who were the bread-winners of the family, had lost their jobs. It was reported that marriage rates also declined by 22% between 1929 and 1939, so there were many single women who had to support themselves financially.
This is definitely the time where female equality and gender equality issues started to be voiced. Gender discrimination was very apparent, with women being underpaid and were only allowed to work in confined fields like nursing and sewing. These roles typically paid less than those roles reserved for men. If you were a woman of colour the discrimination was much worse, receiving even less wages and benefits compared to a white woman. Issues women are still facing to some extent 90 years later.
A strong female advocate for women rights in the workforce at the time was First Lady Eleanor Rooservelt, who is famous for lobbying for more women in Office.
Perhaps being born in such a time is what kindled Justice Ginsburg passion for gender equality and little did she know that some 60 years after her birth she would find herself in an equivalent powerful position to Elearnor Rooservelt, to advocate for change and women's rights.
Justice Ginsburg ended her career as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1993 - 2020). She was just the secound woman to serve in the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg was well educated, was the first woman to work as an editorial staff for the Harvard Law Review, was a wife and a mother before she graduated law school in 1959, at the age of 26. She also graduated in a tie at the top of her class. Already at a young age she was blazing trails for women well before entering into law! Although she had amazing credentials she still found it hard to find a job as a lawyer, because she was a woman and a mother. She ultimately accepted a position in 1963 at a law firm and was asked to take a lower wage because of her husband's well paying job. Later it was said when she fell pregnant with her secound child, she wore oversized clothes for fear that her work contract would not be renewed.
It was in 1970s that she became professionally involved in gender equality issues.
Below is a brief timeline of events that shaped her career:
- in 1971 she wrote two law review articles on the issue of "women's liberation" and taught a seminar on gender discrimination in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and became a leader in gender discrimination litigation;
- in 1972 she became founding councel of ACLU's Women's Rights Project and also became the first tenured female faculty member at Columbia Law School. She co-authored a series of books and law review articles on gender discrimination and authored many law review articles. She also drafted or contributed to many Supreme Court briefs on the issue of gender discrimination. During the decade, she argued before the Supreme Court six times, winning five cases.
- in 1980 she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C.
- in 1993 she was nominated and confirmed into the Supreme Court. She continuously battled the idea of "gender norms" and advocated for women and their place in the system. She believed in equality and for the law to be applied consistently.
Justice Ginsburg was a tremendous woman.
It is interesting that she would have also faced a lot of discrimination throughout her career, but she did have men who saw and recognised her brilliance, potential and ultimately supported her to get to where she was able to in her career.
Behind the scenes, she would have also had to play the different roles as wife and mother, while dedicating her life to improve the lives of women. To what extent she managed all three successfully, we don't know, but it still shows it is possible.
It is women like Justice Ginsburg who remind us that one person in fact can make a difference in the world we live in today.
Many of the gender discrimination issues still exist and are being addressed today. May her legacy live on and her message and ideals never be forgotten, especially as we continue to bridge the equality gap between men and women.
To finish we wanted to share a powerful quote from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
"Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."
Thank you Justice Ginsburg for every thing you have done and every sacrifice you had made.
Where otherwise referenced, the facts regarding Ruth Bader Ginsburg were obtained from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ruth-Bader-Ginsburg. View this link to see the full story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.