Celebrate #womensequalityday 2020

Women’s Equality Day 2020 marks 100 years since some women in the United States were first given the right to vote. It is symbolic of the fight for equality everywhere. We asked 4 Elite Model Look models to share their thoughts on womanhood, strength and what more can be done to achieve equality for all.

What is #WomensEqualityDay?

In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave white women in certain states equal democratic rights with white men.

Though African Americans gained the right to citizenship in 1868, they were excluded from voting in many places for at least another 100 years. Similarly, Native Americans and Asian American women were denied full voting rights on the basis of citizenship long after laws for white women were passed. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act gave full legal rights to all.

Voting is not just about ticking a box during in elections – it means politicians must listen to your community. Without the right to vote, many groups – be it women, people of colour or the working class – can easily be ignored by those in power. Women first started campaigning for the vote as long ago as the 1770s!

Ahead of the Presidential election in the United States this November, many campaigners argue that women – and men – of colour are being prevented from voting because of technicalities and paperwork issues. And around the world, many women are denied the basic rights like voting, education, housing and a fair wage to achieve their potential and live freely in the world.

Tobi Momoh, Elite Model Look Nigeria

What’s your motivational mantra?

I guess my motivational mantra would be "You didn’t come this far to only come this far”. Doing Elite Model Look really exposed me to a whole new world, and just waking up every morning remembering the success I had in my debut season at fashion week reminds me to tackle each day. I tell myself that if I am too quit, then I am giving up a lot!

How can we build a more equal world?

I think one way we can build a more equal world is by actively denouncing discrimination and sexual harassment. If we witness any discriminatory practice, we should speak out against it. We should let our colleagues and friends know that it is not OK to make such comments – especially in front of kids. The more we speak out against inequality, the less acceptable it becomes. We should also make use of social media to get the message out there.

If you were President for 1 day, what would you do?

That’s a very tricky one, because there are many things that need fixing! I suppose I would declare that women be given full rights, same as men, especially in the northern region of Nigeria, where certain laws still impose huge restrictions on women. I think that’s what I would change!

Arya Bendkale, Elite Model Look India

What does equality mean to you?

Equality for me is unbiased opportunity in every phase of our lives. No one, be it a man or a woman should be treated disrespectfully because everyone has their own quality and talent. And also, I feel as a woman, we are mother and sister, and it is our sole responsibility to teach our next generation the value of equality.

Can you name 3 women who have supported your journey so far?

It would be unfair if I take specific names of the women who have supported me in this journey, because there are many women who have been part of it; first of all my mother, who was there since day 1; my bookers, without them, nothing is possible; my teachers who allowed me to do both the things - my architecture and my modelling; and last, but not least, my best friends who have always been there no matter what.

Why is it important to use your vote?

Voting is a source of power in the hands of citizens to choose who their representative should be. Everyone’s vote is important and equal, irrespective of gender, caste, colour. Every individual must vote!

Alice Gilbert, Elite Model Look UK

If you were President for a day, what would you do?

If I were President, I’d allocate more money to the education sector as it is so important that everyone has the right to a good education as it can open up so many doors towards your future. I’d also make the pay gap illegal, because if men and women are doing the same job then we should be paid equally, and it’s crazy that this is still an issue that we are having in the world today. And I’d also ensure all companies are paying their taxes, and raise taxes so that we could have more funding that’s going towards other communities and minorities to bring equal opportunities to everyone.

Which woman has helped you most in your career?

The woman who helped me most with my career is definitely my mum, as I have always had her support no matter what I wanted to do. She has always encouraged me to work hard and to travel and to take full advantage of the opportunities I have been given. And even when it was hard being away from home for long periods of time, I always knew I had her love and support.

What do you want to see change after 2020?

The thing that I want to see change in 2020 is the under-25 voice heard more for political and social matters, as they are the next generation, and they will be the ones responsible for leading us forward for social change. I hope that the current politicians will listen and appreciate and take on board the voices and opinions of these people. 

In 2020, there has already been so much change which has been incredible, especially for the #BlackLivesMatter movement – however, we need to make sure that this does not plateau and we continue striving for more change and more action, and all of us continue to educate ourselves.

Rita Costa, Elite Model Look Portugal

Which 3 women do u love to follow on Instagram and why?

3 women who inspire me who I follow on Instagram are Alexandra Orcasio-Cortez, Greta Thunberg and Malala. They are source of inspiration for different reasons of course, but they all have one thing in common. These are women who have managed to make their voices heard, and with that, they have brought awareness to very important issues. These are women who have risen above their limitations to bring real and necessary change to this world.

What issues still face women today?

There are still a lot of issues women face today, and they vary around the world. I would say that one main universal problem is violence against women- be it domestic violence, war-related crimes or just plain verbal abuse to undermine women. There is also the problem of unequal access to education and opportunities which leads to economic inequality and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in which women are disproportionately affected. The lack of women in positions of power only worsens the issue, which is why intersectional feminism is so important.

Why is equality important?

Equality is important because equality means empowerment, and empowerment means the ability to choose. In a society where people are seen as equal, everyone can reach their full potential regardless of gender, race economic stature and so on. That’s why we must fight for a more just and equal society in which all human lives have the same value and opportunities.