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Mother Daughter and Granddaughter

I am a 57-year-old mother of three. I attended law school in the 1970s when it was still pretty rare to have other female classmates. I became a litigation attorney and spent a dozen years in courtrooms and boardrooms trying to emulate my male counterparts. Back then, even our attire copied the male three piece suit.

We, as women, have made great progress in becoming equals in this country. Women already make up more than half of college and university students. We outnumber men at law schools and medical schools and make up forty percent of MBA students. In a new book, The Richer Sex, Liz Mundy notes that forty percent of working wives now earn more than their husbands. We have reached this economic and educational order predicated on the freedom of women, married and unmarried, to protect their own health and to decide when we are going to have children. Yet, today, as a woman who fought for equality, I find myself amazed that the country is re-debating many of the fundamental issues that we had resolved decades ago.

Not all women agree with one another on the issues of contraception, abortion, and social mores. However, we are all aligned on the issues of equal pay for equal work, available day care, and access to health care. It is our responsibility, as mothers, to help our daughters continue the work that this country as a whole has undertaken. Nothing is guaranteed, and young women need to be educated on the work that they need to do to make sure they are free to engage in public discourse and make their voices heard.

As Hilary Clinton said at the Women in the World Summit this week, "It is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women's rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world." As mothers, we need to take responsibility for conveying this message to our daughters.

photo: roland.lakis

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Sheila Hollender likes to blog about the environment and health issues.