I recently became aware of a wonderful quote by Harriet Tubman, the leading abolitionist in the Underground Railroad:

“Don’t ever stop. If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

Tubman’s line still speaks clearly to us today, on International Women’s Day, reminding us to “never stop” fighting injustice and inequality in its many forms, as we challenge corporate control and work to create a truly democratic society for all.    

While she was best known for her efforts to establish racial equality, Tubman also fought for women’s rights alongside the nation’s suffragists, making her a forerunner of the modern feminist movement. As we celebrate this historic day in Women’s History Month, it is important to remember the victories we have won – and the many visionary as well as ordinary women who sacrificed to make our opportunities possible.  

We still have far to go. Sexism remains embedded in our economic and political systems, and in our society and culture overall. The Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps who have spent decades grossly exploiting and abusing women are only now beginning to feel the limits of their power, thanks to our movements for social change.

But as millions more people stand up and proclaim #MeToo, both here and around the world, gender equality gets that much closer to becoming a reality. The #MeToo movement shows the degree to which women have reached a level of courage and confidence to speak our truths and reveal the history of repression and abuse we have felt.

As the Mayor of Richmond, in 2008 I started an International Women‘s Day event called Sisters in Solidarity, which brought together Bay Area women to network and celebrate our local, national and international accomplishments. This celebratory tradition continues more than a decade on, and this Saturday, March 10, Richmond will hold its 11th Annual Sisters in Solidarity event!  

The objectification of women in our society is still a daily fact. We are disrespected and harmed, both directly and in subtle ways, through advertising, entertainment, in the workplace, in the home, in the political arena, and in our daily interactions. Men, too, are harmed by this objectification.

On the other hand, when sexual relations, work relations, political relations and family relations are based on genuine respect and equality, our society and culture are greatly enhanced.

It will take the ongoing hard work of organizing to make sure that women achieve our due equal rights, and, as your Lieutenant Governor, I intend to do everything in my power to support gender equality – which includes supporting more women leaders in all areas of society.

Across our state, all of us must fight for pay equity, full reproductive rights, paid family leave, free childcare, zero tolerance for sexual harassment and abuse, and gender balance in political and social structures. There are many layers of systemic oppression that we need to overcome together, including sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, ageism, disrespect and abuse of children and youth.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate who we are, how far we’ve come – and to remember that when we fight together, we win.

Please join my campaign for California: gayleforcalifornia.org/donate