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2021 Winning Essay by Sohan Patel

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Ginsburg:  Fight for Gender Equality

Imagine a mother or sister being treated differently than you, simply for being of a different gender.  I believe every member of my family should be treated equally.  Thankfully, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a firm advocate of gender equality and promoted women’s rights.  Gender equality is when every individual is treated equally and given similar rights independent of their gender.  This is important to me because I have a little sister, who is two years old, and a mother – both of whom deserve similar rights as I would.

Ruth Ginsburg was a well-educated lawyer who lived from 1933 to 2020.  She had many struggles in her personal life and career that encouraged her to fight for women’s rights.  Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959 with the highest honor.  Despite her accomplishments, she did not get the job for which she was much more qualified than others, simply because she was a female.  Later, while working at the Social Security Administration office at a desk job, her boss demoted her and cut her pay for becoming pregnant.  Bosses back then didn’t think pregnant women belonged in the workplace.  These challenges encouraged Ginsburg to fight for equality in the workforce.  Her recognition of co-founding the Women’s Rights Project in 1972, and her career dedication towards civil rights led to her nomination for the Justice in the Supreme Court in 1993.

Ruth Ginsburg believed:  “I don’t say women’s rights – I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship status of men and women…Women belong in all places where decisions are being made…It shouldn’t be that women are the exception…”  Her work for women continued while she was Justice in the Supreme Court.  In 1996, she wrote the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the United States v. Virginia, which held that the state-supported Virginia Military Institute permit women to enter the Institute without gender discrimination.  Ginsburg similarly helped men.  In 1975, Stephen Wiesenfeld wanted to stay home and take care of his infant son because his wife had died giving birth.  At the time, a woman in this situation would receive certain social benefits.  Yet, the U.S. Government refused to pay Stephen the same benefits for being a man.  At a Supreme Court hearing, Ginsburg argued for Stephen and the Court agreed.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work contributed in many ways to gender equality:  equal access to military enrollment, fair employment, wages, social benefits, and others.  For her work, she won the Thurgood Marshall Award.  This is the highest award recognizing an individual’s dedication towards civil rights in the U.S.  She was a true champion for civil rights, fighting for both women and men alike.  Therefore, I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be honored in the Victorville Civil Rights Memorial.  Although much work is needed, Ginsburg’s contribution to gender equality significantly reduce gender discrimination and give hope for a better future for me, my sister and all of humanity.

Submitted September 29, 2021