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100 years after women’s suffrage, work remains in achieving equality

This week it will be 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women in America the hard-fought right to vote. With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting women, especially women of color, progress on several fronts including wage equality has been lost. Amanda Zamora, a co-founder and publisher of The 19th, a digital newsroom dedicated to covering gender rights, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    This month marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the constitutional right to vote.

    The Suffrage Movement, leading up to that historic decision, helped inspire other movements for reform which continue on today with the ongoing protests for Black Lives Matter, police reform and LGBTQ rights.

    The 19th, a new nonprofit, nonpartisan digital newsroom and platform dedicates itself to issues that continue to affect women's lives, from politics and policy to gender, health care and the current coronavirus pandemic.

    I recently spoke with co-founder and publisher Amanda Zamora.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    One of the interesting storylines that several of your writers have picked up on in different threads in their own pieces is how this pandemic is affecting women specifically.

  • Amanda Zamora:

    This is the story of this pandemic in so many ways.

    Women are being disproportionately impacted in virtually every arena, except perhaps for mortality rates. You know, women are at the frontlines of healthcare and they're at the frontlines of education. They make up the majority of low wage jobs.

    You know, women are experiencing double-digit unemployment for the first time. We had made such tremendous gains in the workforce over the last half of the century and women have seen those virtually evaporate overnight. Women have lost 11 million jobs in the first months of this pandemic. And experts say that 8% of those jobs, that's tens of thousands of women at work, are not coming back online.

    The other thing that we're seeing in the workforce and even in our own newsroom is that women are being forced to choose. Do they go back to work? Do they stay at work or do they stay home and take care of their families, of their children? Women are still doing the outsized share of caregiving in their households, and they are being confronted with this impossible choice as schools are struggling to figure out how to reopen safely as thousands of daycare facilities have shuttered across the country.

    Women are just in this impossible position of choosing between staying in the workforce or choosing their families.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And you've profiled different sorts of tiers of women on the socio-economic strata. So some who have, you know, kind of achieved that dream of becoming in senior leadership positions. They worked really hard. And here they are making that choice. And then at the same time, you've also highlighted how disproportionately it's affecting women of color who actually make much less per dollar compared to men.

  • Amanda Zamora:

    Exactly. Low wage workers whose jobs are the least secure, some of them have come back online, but they're by no means either economically secure or, from a health perspective, secure. You know, they're being more exposed to COVID risk.

    And by the way, when those jobs do come back online, they're not always at the same, you know, wages. Those wages are decreasing. And so the cost of living, particularly if you're a low wage worker and you have a family also to take care of and children to take care of, you know, those expenses are rising while wages are being depressed and it's just a real crisis of caregiving for women across the socio-economic spectrum.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Another big topic that makes your site and your story so relevant right now as we approach the anniversary of the suffrage movement here we have a Democratic VP nominee. But if people had been following some of your writers for a while, they would have seen this coming.

  • Amanda Zamora:

    Yes. I mean, the Senator Kamala Harris pick is historic in many ways. She makes good on Biden's promise to have a woman as a vice-presidential candidate.

    But you're right, Erinn has been covering the Black electorate and Black women in the electorate for, for months and months since before the pandemic. Black voters propelled Biden's candidacy in the primary. And this pick makes good on his promise, but also rewards those Black voters and Black women in particular, who have been the backbone of the Democratic Party.

    And yes, if you read Erinn Haines's reporting, you will see that that pick really is a pick of this moment in time as the country is grappling with an economic crisis, with a health healthcare crisis, but also with this crisis of systemic racism re confronting so much of systemic racism and division in this country that Senator Harris's pick unites the party. But potentially they'll be looking to unite the country with the November election.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And I've also got to ask, in the middle of a pandemic, it doesn't seem like the greatest time to launch a whole new site. I mean, what's that been like?

  • Amanda Zamora:

    It's been exhilarating. It's been challenging, but it's been so necessary for all of the, the stories that we've just been discussing here in a matter of moments. We are just getting started and we are really looking forward to digging in and providing the kind of journalism that our readers are asking for. And yes, we're, we're thrilled to be online pandemic or no.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right, Amanda Zamora of The 19th. Congratulations for getting out the door. And thanks for joining us.

  • Amanda Zamora:

    Thanks so much for having me.

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