Central Ohio puts emphasis on Women’s Rights in March


Women’s rights have been an ongoing issue for centuries, including in central Ohio. Recently, many groups and organizations have been created here in order to continue to fight for equality.

Ellie Bernard (Senior), Social Media Editor

   From the spark of the women’s rights movement in 1848 to the present day, women continue to push for equality and eliminate gender norms in all places. After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, the empowerment of women’s voices became vivid and apparent. This development propelled and continues to drive the need for equality among genders. 

   Throughout the past couple of years, monumental changes have occurred involving equality and women’s rights in general. Following the recent decision by the United States Soccer Foundation to solve the lawsuit filed by women soccer players by permitting a twenty-four million dollars settlement in which players are now getting equal pay compared to the men’s soccer players. 

   In central Ohio, this drive for equal rights and the elimination of gender norms continue to be advocated for through a plethora of groups. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio (WFCO) is a global organization that has created a network of women who continuously advocate for gender equality focused in the central Ohio region. 

   As stated on their website, the vision of the WFCO is “A future where gender equality is the norm in life and 

work.” and its mission is “to transform the lives of women and girls by mobilizing the collective power and passion of all people working together.” By creating a network of groups of women, the WFCO is able to support one another and push the agenda for equality everywhere. WFCO’s board of directors chair, Heather Whaling spoke on this. 

   “Being a part of the Women’s Fund has opened my eyes to the inequities in the community and especially the workplace. It’s really helped me understand how much work there still is left to do to really create more equal communities and more equal workspaces,” Whaling said. 

   WFCO continues to promote equality in all places by creating a network of feminists to drive the agenda of women’s equality. A study recently done by the group worked to reveal the source of the wage gap between women and men. Results found that maternity leave had a long-lasting effect on the careers of women. 

   Instead of being able to have a career and a family, women are often given the ultimatum to choose just one.  Whaling, who is also the founder and president of Geben Communication, discussed how being able to provide mothers with paid maternity leave where their bodies have time to heal and allows time for deep connections with their children has been beneficial.

   “If we’re truly going to create more equitable communities we have to be honest about the gender norms and if we only provide paid leave to moms, not dads, then we’re saying that dad’s career is more important and mom is the caregiver,” Whaling said.

   WFCO also focuses on breaking gender norms and reforming new fluid norms by providing equal opportunities and contracts. 

   “We’ve done research on gender norms which was really eye-opening and we also did research on the wealth gap in Central Ohio so looking at how much women earn and women of color earn, and accumulate to wealth,  not specifically just the wage gap but the wealth gap. Then understanding what are some levers we can help pull to close that wealth gap,” Whaling said.

   Whaling discussed her battle of dealing with gender norms and how that shaped the parenting of her eight year-old son. 

   “Being mindful of gender norms by not forcing him into a box that just because he’s a boy he doesn’t have to play with trucks and he doesn’t have to be tough. Little boys can have feelings and emotions too. The Women’s Fund has been really key in helping me with all of those different components.” Whaling said. 

   The Young Feminist Club of Westerville North High School helps promote the expression of femininity among individuals. Started up this past fall, the club meets monthly to discuss issues and is advised by Beth Henman. A member of the club, Safia Raki (10),  plays an important role in the creation of the club’s projects. 

   “Young Feminist Club plays a big part in allowing everyone to be who they are without judgment. We spend a portion of our meetings going over highs and lows associated with women on social media in which we emphasize the rights and wrongs of the forms of criticism directed to women everywhere. The accomplishments that come up with discussions like these further emphasize my security in my femininity,” Raki said. 

   The extreme emphasis that both groups stress is that longing for and pushing gender equality and smashing gender norms is not just a “girly” issue. Equality is for everyone and advocates don’t have to remain just female. 

   “The Women’s Fund and caring about gender equality is not just a women’s issue. I think it’s also just as important that men care about these issues. It’s not good for anyone to be put in a box or anyone be mistreated unequally or unfairly,” Whaling said. 


Visit www.womensfundcentralohio.org/ for more information about how you can become involved or contact Safia Raki to join the Young Feminists Club.