Due to the current state of things in the U.S., it can be understandably easy as feminist to feel discouraged about social progress. Things look dire-we have old, rich dudes legislating our reproductive rights and access to healthcare, we have attitudes of division, discrimination, and exclusion both within and without our great country, and things just seem, well, bleak.

In the interest of keeping that fire that burns within the hearts of advocates for social justice alive and well, sometimes it helps to take a step out of the heat of it all and consider the progress we’ve made so far.

Perhaps one of the most revolutionary milestones of social progress within the U.S. is that of Title IX, which occurred exactly 45 years ago. Prior to this amendment, federally funded schools were free to exclude students from participation in school activities, including sports, club memberships, and classrooms.

The mere fact that an amendment had to take place to ensure that a school granted equal access to female students is infuriating and insulting on its own, and because women were not granted the same opportunities to education as men since the beginning, we are still dealing with significant disparities in female participation in sports, STEM fields, and employment. However, we are gradually bridging these gaps, and that is cause for celebration.

Title IX has given rise to a heightened awareness of the alarming prevalence of rape on college campuses, gaining the attention of former president Obama, advocating for colleges to intervene when sexual assault inevitably happens, and create a safe learning atmosphere for students of all genders.

As a culture, we are becoming more aware of gender-based issues, which is precisely what any movement needs for any kind of social change to make an impact. We cannot, and we will not allow pussy-grabbing presidents to stand in the way of realizing human equality. Title IX is proof that with enough unity, perseverance, and strength, we can bring about change. We can make our country-our home-one of true social equality.

Things seem rough right now, but keep your chin up and your heart strong, because we are nowhere near finished yet. We’ve come so far, but we have so much more to go.

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