A message from president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, Fatima Goss Graves:

“After a year of living under the debilitating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we are only just beginning to understand its true cost to our society and our economy. We entered this crisis a divided and unequal country, one rife with gender and racial disparities that continue to shape who is impacted and how. The pandemic accelerated trends women have long fought to reverse, pushing hundreds of thousands out of the labor force even as we all relied on the unpaid and underpaid labor of women as essential workers, as caregivers, and as parents. Black, Latina, Native, and Asian-American women continue to bear the brunt of this pain with minimal recognition, despite serving as the backbone for our economy, our democracy, and our society.

“Women’s History Month traditionally celebrates all that women have done, but this year we are celebrating all that women continue to do. We’ve seen how women fuel our country and yet, we’ve also witnessed that when their collective well-being is an afterthought, we are all harmed. No one prospers when states escalate attacks on reproductive freedom, or when institutions from our schools to the media continue to fail survivors of sexual violence. Our entire nation suffers deeply when women are forced out of work and not paid equally, and when our care infrastructure collapses. The last year has been a case study of what happens to the country when women are constantly forced to prove our individual resilience and our perseverance in the face of adversity. We say enough is enough–and we need future-forward laws and policies that say the same.

“Statistics like those in this report can only tell part of the story of the past year. We know the true impact of this pandemic is felt not in a bar graph or pie chart but in the daily tears shed, the futures long-deferred, and the more than half a million lives lost. So let me say this clearly and directly to the women of this country: You’ve earned far more than you’ve been given. You have fought for the world even when the world never seems to fight for you. Though it may not always feel like it, I want you to know the Law Center hears you. We hear your stress, your fear, and your rage. And every day it is our great privilege to fight for the safety, equity, and justice you deserve.”