HOUSTON - Today is the first International Women’s Day being celebrated as the United States has its first-ever female Vice President. The theme this year is challenging all women to reach further than they ever have as many take this day to research and reflect on women in history who have made a big difference.
"The theme of this year's International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. If there ever is a moment in history for women to challenge it is now. Challenge gender bias, challenge bias, challenge inequality," says Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
"I would really choose just for women to really be kind and accepting of each other," adds Jacquelyn Aluotto who runs the non-profit organization Real Beauty Real Women.
"As leaders in our family, in this community, in our country, we have an onus to make sure we are empowering other women and not tearing each other down," says Gayla Wilson Volunteer Houston's Program Manager.
On this day to honor and recognize women’s accomplishments, it’s hard not to point out struggles women still face.
"Women have really been the ones that have faced the seismic burden of the pandemic of COVID-19. Two million-plus in the United States have lost their jobs," says the Congresswoman.
"One of the biggest issues is pay parity," adds Wilson.
"As we restore this economy we have to look at pay parity. We have to look at access to credit, which I think is very important. Many women now may want to go into business for themselves," explains Congresswoman Jackson Lee.
"In too many instances you see such crime and violence toward women," says Wilson.
"I am the lead co-sponsor. It’s my bill that we’re introducing today. The Violence Against Women Act is being introduced in the United States Congress today," explains Jackson Lee who also had a bill passed recently fighting against female genital mutilation.
"I had the honor of working with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on a bill to get restitution for people that were sold on Backpage. We are in a particular time in history where being brave and courageous is something that is really important. This culture of women being oppressed and really over sexually identified was something that women really wanted to change the narrative on and I think the Me Too Movement gave women a voice to do that. Once we start putting people over profiting for oppression and exploitation the world is going to be a much better place," says Aluotto who does a lot of work against human trafficking.
President Joe Biden released a statement saying he’s proud to "issue an executive order today establishing the White House Gender Policy Council to ensure every policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and e equity for women ... Elevating the status of women globally is the right thing to do."