The Fourth Wave: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Other | Tuesday 28th August 2018 | Roberta Micallef

'The Fourth Wave' is a series of stories about influential members of society advocating for women's rights, today and for the future. Here we get to know Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She graduated top of her class at Cornell University in 1954. Later on, being one of only nine women amongst six-hundred men attending Harvard Law School, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a chance to make history and become one of the few women lawyers at that time. Today, she is known as the Notorious RBG and is a supreme court justice in the US Sentate, advocating for women's rights in her post. 

Being the first Female member of the Harvard Law review, she was likely influenced to pursue her feminist agenda by writers such as Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer, who inspired a wave of feminism that swept across the U.S and The West in the sixites and seventies. In 1972 she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU where she litigated and argued six gender equality cases before the US Supreme Court.

Cecilia Bader, Ginsburg’s mother taught her two important values, ‘to be independent’, and not to ‘be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment’. Ginsberg says that although her Mother wanted her to meet ‘prince charming’ she also stressed the importance of being independent and managing on her own.

Upon finishing law school, Ginsburg went into teaching and at that time was one of only twenty women law professors in the entire country. In 1972 she taught Women’s Studies and Law at Harvard University. Later she was appointed the first female faculty member in the law school’s history.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s history is elaborate yet simple, her story seemingly destined to happen. Her husband Marty whom she speaks of with such love and admiration, never felt threatened or bothered by his wife’s strength, intelligence and independence. He followed her where her career took her and was always supporting her right from the front row.

Ginsburg mainly took on cases related to gender equality, and civil rights. When U.S Supreme Court Justice Byron White retired, President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to take his place on the bench. When Senate Judiciary Committee took a vote, Ginsberg was confirmed, ninety-six to three. That day Ginsburg became the 107th Supreme Court Justice and only the second female jurist after Sandra Day O’Connor.  Around that time President Clinton made a public statement saying, “I am confident that she will be an outstanding addition to the court and will serve with distinction for many years.”

Boy was he right.

In 1999 Ruth Bader Ginsburg won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights.

The Notorious RBG is still serving justice today, and says that she has another five years until she retires. If someone should inspire you to do, not what is expected, but what you think is right, it’s this brave woman right here.

'On the Basis of Sex', a film inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 1975 groundbreaking case of gender discrimination, premiers on 25th December 2018.