Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation writes, on Inauguration Day 2021…on January 20, 20213 min read
“We are witnessing an historic moment for women, as Kamala Harris is inaugurated as the very first female Vice-President of the United States of America. We congratulate Kamala and we are heartened that the US has chosen to elevate this remarkable BAME woman to this position.
This is a crucial moment for America itself in helping to reset its position as a world leader, but it is also hugely important for women and girls across the world who are seeing a BAME woman secure such a powerful role. Kamala Harris as a world leader will help inspire women and girls from all corners of the globe to believe that everything is possible and that everyone can achieve their aspirations and dreams. This is already creating an enormous ripple effect that will reach right here in communities across Liverpool and the wider UK.
For 25 years The Women’s Organisation has deployed roles models to support our work in promoting sex and race equality, Kamala Harris exemplifies all that is good when opportunity is not denied. Her words and deeds will help us as we work in the Liverpool City Region and beyond to encourage women to be trailblazers and change makers, stepping into leadership in business and taking active roles in their communities. We are proud to say we have seen change in our 25 years, but we still live in a world where we are celebrating a “first” woman doing something women have long since been capable of doing.
It’s 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was written into law, and yet we still have a gender pay gap. It’s over 100 years since the suffragettes fought and won for some women to receive the right to vote, and yet women remain underrepresented in parliament. Throughout the global pandemic we’ve watched women bear the brunt again, with under-investment in the care sector, and women from BAME communities suffering from lack of crucial support and an understanding of the challenges they are facing. Until women have a voice at every table where decisions are made, there will continue to be a lack of understanding, a lack of effective change, that will inevitably benefit us all.
The Rose Review of 2019 showed that if we invest more in women’s enterprise we would add an additional £250 billion to the UK economy. Our economy has taken a huge hit during Covid-19 and while planning our recovery it is crucial that we acknowledge this and make investment accordingly. But we know that if there are no women, no women from BAME backgrounds, or women with disabilities at the decision-making table, a huge and effective part of that plan will be lacking.
As Kamala Harris, not just a woman but a black and ethnic minority woman, steps into office, she does it acknowledging the women who went before her and saying “I won’t be the last” giving hope to generations to come. We need to see women in positions of great authority remembering to pave the way for other women to follow. We need to keep momentum going to ensure the voice of women can be found in places of significant authority.
Here in our city region we have recently seen a “first” as Jan Williamson became the first woman leader of a local authority, and we hope again that Jan “won’t be the last”. Only through acknowledging the achievements of women like Jan and Kamala do we say to other women “it is possible”. Only though exploring how they reached their goal and put pathways, investment and services in place that allow other women to follow suit do we allow the ripple to continue.
In an interview with CNN, President Joe Biden has said “There’s not a single decision I’ve made yet about personnel or about how to proceed that I haven’t discussed with Kamala first”. We need male leaders to follow suit, reminding people of the power of the women they work alongside, and understanding that unless they take note of the women’s voices at the table, they neglect to hear 50% of the population.
At The Women’s Organisation we have a saying “When a woman achieves, women achieve”. We are thrilled for Kamala Harris, but we are excited for women in a wider sense. This day is for all of us. This is the start of something, and we women in the Liverpool City Region await the ripple.”