The national initiative Vision 2020 held a rally at the National Constitution Center March 30 to announce their goal for gender equality by the year 2020.
According to Lynn Yeakel, Vision 2020 co-chair and director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, Vision 2020 is “a campaign to make equality a national priority through shared leadership among men and women.”
The Vision 2020 project was launched Sept. 14, 2009. Drexel University College of Medicine provided the program with a planning grant to help it begin.
On October 21-22, 2010, the program held its first public event, where delegates from all 50 states convened at the National Constitution Center to set an agenda for the presentation of the program’s goals. At the event, Vision 2020 aimed to announce its progress and five official goals to be met by the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
The event was public and supporters of the initiative were given free admission to the National Constitution Center. Free tours of Vision 2020’s women’s history exhibit, entitled “From the Absence of Many to the Presence of All … The Unfinished Business of Women’s Equality,” were given throughout the day.
The rally was held in Kirby Auditorium, with the day’s theme being, “Don’t Let History Happen Without You.”
Marilyn Russell, host of The BEN FM Morning Show, was first to speak at the rally. Russell was introduced to Yeakel when Yeakel spoke on the Morning Show for the show’s Women of the Week segment.
“I learned that Vision 2020 and Lynn and her fabulous team are committed to finishing the work that the suffragettes began all so many years ago,” Russell said.
Yeakel then introduced the program and its mission for equality, recognizing Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company as a key sponsor.
“Without the support of Penn Mutual early on, we would not have been able to develop our dreams into deeds,” Yeakel said.
She continued to outline the five goals of Vision 2020: to achieve pay equality, increase the number of women in senior leadership positions, educate employers about the value of policies and practices, educate new generations of boys and girls to respect their differences and set a record turnout of women voters in the 2020 presidential election.
“Each of these goals have change at their core, and it’s a change that’s long overdue,” Yeakel said.
Only about 60 percent of women voted in the 2008 presidential election; 50 million eligible women voters did not vote. According to Yeakel, given the history of the battle for women to obtain the right to vote, this number should be higher.
Catherine Ormerod, Vision 2020 Project Director, described various projects already in progress across America. Each of the delegates from the October 2010 event has developed her own plan of action.
Some of the projects include mentoring and education programs for businesswomen, increasing the amount of women in NASA and in the federal government, creating a guide for middle school boys and girls to help them learn respect for each other and using social media outlets to educate and inform women about their right to vote.
Rock the Vote, a program known for increasing youth interest in voting, recently became a national ally to Vision 2020. Ormerod feels that more Drexel students should register and be active citizens.
“So it’s through the grass roots and through the national work that we are going to get this. We’re going to push the 2020 agenda,” Ormerod said.
Raisha Lightfoot and Mae Yeakel – young women who will both be 21 in 2020 – were then brought onstage. Lightfoot was recognized for donating and becoming the program’s first charter member. Her sister, Savannah, will be 18 in 2020 and was recognized as well for becoming a charter member.
“They are in our particular audience of people that we want to reach,” Yeakel said. “To really think about the work that’s gone before and the work we still need to do.”
“Drexel has been a wonderful home for this ambitious project. Even though we’re in the College of Medicine, it’s about women in all the professions, not just medicine,” Ormerod said, adding that she hopes more Drexel women will join the initiative.
People wishing to support the initiative can do so by signing the declaration of equality that can be found online, or by donating $20.20 to become a charter member.