Lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg

RBG was the second women to become a Supreme Court Justice at the United States. Her enormous sense of justness made her change American law in order to promote an inclusive society – and we can learn a lot from her.

Have you ever thought about how the way you live your life will impact future generations? The U.S Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg certainly did herself this kind of question. Ginsburg (or RBG, or even Notorious RBG) was a crusader for women’s rights, and she aimed at erasing the gender discrimination in society. RBG has passed away recently, but we are certain that she left a huge legacy in the fight for fundamental rights. Also, she still will be an inspiration for many girls around the world.

“Men and women are persons of equal dignity and they should count equally before the law”. This is one of the brilliant sentences said by Ginsburg at the U.S Supreme Court. However, RBG faced several challenges in her career before going to the Supreme Court, due to the fact that, decades ago, women were not welcome in the law. In 1956, she was one of the nine women in a class of 500 at Harvard Law School. After graduating top of her class, Ginsburg moved to New York with her husband, Martin, and her little daughter, Jane. The biggest city in the world had no space for  RBG – no law firm wanted to hire her, because she was a woman and also a mother. Eventually she became a law professor and leader of ACLU Women’s Rights Project, in which she took on cases to build protections against gender discrimination.

One of the key cases in her career was Stephen Weidenfeld’s case. As his wife passed away, he wanted to work less in order to stay home and take care of his child. However, Stephen discovered that he was not eligible for social security payments, due to the fact that only women could receive it. The case went to the Supreme Court and, on Ginsburg’s words: “his case was the perfect example of how gender discrimination hurts everyone”. In 1993, she was nominated to the U.S Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. She has fought for fundamental rights 24/7 over these years until her death on September, 18th.

As we can see, she really deserves the nickname Notorious RBG. But what else we can learn from her?

Even if things are not easy, do not give up

Without a doubt, Ginsburg was very disheartened after not getting any job in New York. However, she tried hard and she found another way to achieve her goals to change gender discriminations laws.

Never respond with anger, see that as an opportunity to teach

RBG had to deal with many ironic comments at the U.S Supreme Court. During one of many interviews, Ruth said that she would respond these comments “never with anger”, and she used to see these situations as “an opportunity to teach”. “I did see myself as a kindergarten teacher on those days, because the judges didn’t think that sex discrimination existed” told Ruth in the documentary “RBG”. At the same narrative, her granddaughter Clara Spera says that her grandmother has taught that “the way to win an argument is not to yell, because often that will turn people away more so than bringing them to your table.”

Defend what you believe

Ruth never gave up on what she thought it was right in order to please others. Even at the Supreme Court, she had many dissenting opinions and she stayed true on what she believed. “Of course I prefer to be in the majority, but, if necessary,I will write separately in dissent” she said about having different points of view with other justices at the Court.

“Be a lady and be independent”

This is a lesson that came from her mother. Be a lady means that you should not allow yourself to be overcome by emotions like anger; and be independent means that you should find by yourself your happily ever after.

Use the skills you have and put them to work

In the 1970s, marching was a way that young people found out to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the government. However, this wasn’t Ruth’s thing. Instead, she used her legal skills to achieve what she wanted. Like her, we can do tangible things using our abilities in order to make our dreams come true.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg played a remarkable role defending the rights of women and marginalized groups. She fully used her skills to promote a better life for American women and never gave up, even under difficult situations. RBG is an example of strength, courage and determination; she is an inspiration for many women around the world. Then, following her example, we should use our your skills to promote an inclusive society, which makes no functional distinction between man, women and minorities. How YOU can make the world a better place to live in?

Lorena Cardoso


Documentary RBG (2018)

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