In Honor of Women’s Equality Day, 7 Women Talk What Equality Really Means in 2020

September 17, 2020

It’s Women’s Equality Day, but how do we make sense of the word equality in 2020?

It goes without saying writing that this word looks and means something different for so many of us, and it shouldn’t. And while this is a time to acknowledge how far we’ve come, we know that we cannot truly celebrate until it’s a reality for every self-identifying woman.

In honor of this day, we’ve asked 7 women what this word means for them right now, how it affects their lives and how they’re continuing to fight for it.

Read on for astute wisdom and advice on how we can collectively continue to promote and advocate for Women’s Equality.

Copy and paste, read out loud, write it down—we hope these diverse perspectives help you take comfort and make you uncomfortable all at once.

Molly Mitchell, Artist & Writer, The Late Late Show & Grownish @mahmitchell

Who inspires me to fight for equality

My grandparents and all the collective ancestry before them. Who can knock you down when you stand on shoulders so great? 

Proudest moment fighting for the advancement of women and minorities
This is so small compared to the vast and courageous ways that people are called to show up every day, *but* as a Black woman in comedy, specifically in television, I feel proud to represent the culture and stand against untruths in my writing.

Words that changed my life
I love the words of Audre Lord, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” And the words of a long time family friend and storied mentor to Black students at Penn, Harold Haskin, who always said “What’s good for Black students, is good for Penn.”

If I could change one thing in the world right now
I’d redistribute wealth faster than you can say, ‘money moves’. That, or pass the green new deal while these haters are sleeping. Environmental justice is racial justice.

Maggie Connors, Founder Besito @besito.la

How I plan/am fighting for it right now

I co-founded a cannabis company, and one of my main motivators was the drive to shape a newly legal industry that acknowledges the criminalized history of this plant. Hundreds of thousands of Black and brown folks are disproportionately imprisoned for the same plant that many are now legally profiting from. My company besito has been committed to building an equitable industry through support of non-profits working on reparative justice, and we are now partnering on an industry wide coalition to maximize impact together. 

Song/art/literature that makes me feel empowered

I’ve been turning back to Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet this year. It has a beautiful way of putting big, complex ideas into succinct and simple words. Reading it always reminds me of the big picture and gives me a sense of ease.  

A practice that changed my life for good

Giving up alcohol this year has been great for my mental and physical health. Not only do I have more clarity of thought, but feels like I gained hours back to my week. 

Something that should be a pillar of success, but isn’t yet by society’s standards

 Empathy! Starting with awareness of inequalities inherent in all aspects of our society and how we each contribute to oppressive systems. Knowing and caring about the harm caused to folks is how we can begin to build a more equal world, yet compassion isn’t considered success.

Joi-Louise Greenwood, Creator @joi_louise

What’s my definition of equality
Equality is having the same opportunities as someone with the same qualifications. This means you can be hired for the same job as ANYONE else, be paid the same salary as your counterparts, be offered the same promotion opportunities regardless of your gender, ethnicity or beliefs. 

Who inspires me to fight for equality

It is not a question of inspiration. I am tired of being overlooked, under-appreciated and undervalued. Fighting for equality is like fighting for your next breath for so many of us that experience it.

Proudest moment fighting for the advancement of women and minorities

When women tell me I inspire them to go after what they want, I feel proud. Being able to give another woman the joy and strength needed to stand up for herself creates a feeling that can’t be put into words. It is a pure purpose.

Words that changed my life
“No one is you and that is your superpower.”

A practice that changed my life for good

Complimenting others. Uplifting other women has changed my life for good.

Something that should be a pillar of success, but isn’t yet by society’s standards
Purpose should be a pillar of success. I don’t think that many people have a selfless reason for why they want to be successful—beyond money and being able to support yourself and your family. Why are you striving for success and what are your plans to help your community and the world once you have received it?

Carine Carmy, Co-Founder & CEO The Origin @theoriginway

What’s my definition of equality
Thinking about equality and its meaning brings me back to college, when I wrote my senior econ thesis titled, “Does the American Dream still exist?” I was studying the classic question about how much of your future fate is defined by factors determined at birth: where you’re from, who your parents are, your race, your gender.


Flash forward to today, and we’re seeing firsthand the way COVID is disproportionately impacting People of Color, or how women are bearing the economic brunt.


Equality is about access and opportunity. Is there a level playing field? Are systems designed to open doors, or close them? Are underrepresented groups seen and heard, or ignored and dismissed? 


Sadly, we don’t need any more data to show that the American Dream is an illusion to most. We don’t have equal access to capital, education, healthcare and even basic human needs like food and shelter. But I’m hopeful. We’re at a point of reckoning and it’s all eyes on our healthcare system and there is hunger for change.

Song/art/literature that makes me feel empowered
I’m inspired by this Jia Tolentino quote from her book Trick Mirror:

Over the past decade, there’s been a sea change that feels both epochal and underrecognized: it is now completely normal for women to understand their lives, and the lives of other women, on feminist terms.

Hallie Davison, Producer, Writer & Director, Netflix’s Taco Chronicles @ahhyeahhd

What’s my definition of equality

Everyone gets to live with dignity. 

How I plan/am fighting for it right now

As someone who works in media production, representation seems of the utmost importance. On the screen and in our stories but especially in our film crews. We (myself including) need to push harder for economic empowerment which starts with giving people—especially women and people of color—better access to jobs. Not just any jobs, but good jobs. So I’m simply not accepting the “he’s the only one available” excuse anymore, and when the budget’s under my purview, you can be sure I will fight for pay equity across the board. 

Song/art/literature that makes me feel empowered

Lizzo. All day every day.

Who inspires me to fight for equality

Today it seems like there’s inspiration everywhere you look. But one of my favorite OG social activists is Corita Kent aka Sister Mary Corita. She was a nun and educator who left an outsized mark on her community in Los Angeles and also the art world at large. What I appreciate most is that she taught her students how to look closely at their surroundings—essentially, how to see. Sounds so simple, but IMO it’s an often overlooked skill. If we don’t learn to see—both tremendous beauty and deep flaws—how will we learn to change our world? 

Words that changed my life

Nora Ephron told Lena Dunham that all you need to direct is “a light Patagonia parka and a belief in your own power.” I saw that on Twitter maybe two years ago, ordered a used black puffy, and I will see my first director’s credit on a Netflix show in one month. I hope that piece of encouragement finds its way to more women who feel held back by those feelings of “can I do this?” You can do it. Nora says so. And the right (weather-appropriate) clothes can help. 

A practice that changed my life for good

I got away from this myth of self-improvement, an idea that had sort of fascinated me in my 20s. I was interested in books and articles that would help me become, ostensibly, a better person and more productive professional. But in my 30s I’ve enjoyed being more outward-looking. There are lots of problems to tackle, different perspectives to hear, patriarchies to overthrow, and I find it more intellectually engaging to wrap my mind around what’s going on outside, rather than attempt to polish myself to perfection.

Andrea Taylor Lindsay, Co-Founder of

Rec Room @r.e.c.r.o.o.m

What’s my definition of equality
Equality is universal dignity, achieved in an atmosphere of respect and appreciation.

Song/art/literature that makes me feel empowered 

My favorite poem is Little Brown Baby by Paul Laurence Dunbar. It was written in the late 1800s, in the Historical Black American dialect. It’s a father speaking to his baby son, and it’s funny and sweet but also layered with complexity—it reflects the father’s wishes that his brown baby son never sees the world’s troubles. Now that I’m a parent, it has taken on even greater meaning. It inspires me to keep fighting to make this world a safe place for brown babies to thrive.

Who inspires me to fight for equality

My ancestors. I’m unabashedly proud to come from folks with lots of Black “firsts”. From my dad’s side, we had Ralph Bunche, the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize. My auntie Annette Taylor was the first Black fashion designer to be featured in Bullocks Wilshire (the premiere department store in LA in the mid 20th century). My great grandma founded Southern California’s first Black Girl Scout troop. My mom’s family were, for decades, the only Black creole farmers in an otherwise white farming community in Louisiana. They all fought for equality through their businesses and their communities. I hope to do the same.

Proudest moment fighting for the advancement of women and minorities

Together with my co-founder, I announced that our apparel brand, Rec Room, was creating a homegrown initiative called 1% for Racial Justice. 1% of our gross ongoing sales go to organizations fighting racial injustice in the US. Our first recipients are the Equal Justice Initiative and the Loveland Project. I was so proud when we made the commitment. It even inspired two of our business school classmates to adopt the same initiative in their own businesses.

Words that changed my life

My grandpa told me to “never intentionally hurt anyone.” Simple, powerful worlds.

If I could change one thing in the world right now

I’d cancel apathy.

Dianne McCracken, Grandma to four grandchildren

Who inspires me to fight for equality

In the 1920’s my mother proudly became the first female to work in the finance department of The Bell Telephone Company (now Verizon) in San Francisco. Previously, all women employees were only hired to be telephone operators. 

And my dad. He never thought I could/should do less than my brothers. I was capable of doing anything I chose. When he got me my first car, he made sure I knew how to change the tires. 

Words that changed my life
“Waste not; want not.” My parents lived during the Great Depression and we always used and reused everything possible. It’s calming to have enough money to survive, but to just keep buying “stuff” to show off, or accumulating more than is truly needed when others are homeless or starving, is wasteful. I’ve never equated material possessions with being successful.

Something that should be a pillar of success, but isn’t yet by society’s standards
In the future I hope that we as a society put more value on kindness toward and caring for others and not on accumulating material possessions. As I’ve participated in the lives of my grandchildren, I’ve tried to lead by example … now it’s up to them to carry this ideal forward.