With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, we are reminded of the tremendous value her life’s work has contributed to women’s rights. While we join humanity in mourning the loss of her indomitable spirit in conversations of equality, freedom and justice, we are swiftly reminded more so of the debt we all owe both to her memory and to the future of women everywhere. The absence of Justice Ginsburg’s voice leaves a gaping hole not just in the Supreme Court of the United States, but also in the conversations she inspired. As she so poignantly taught us –

“When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?’ and I say ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” -RBG

Undaunted by challenging the status quo, Justice Ginsburg gave us the words when there are nine as both legacy and challenge. Her legacy is her wisdom, her courage, her example, her fairness. Her challenge however is more than just an inspirational idea – it is our call to action and the time for action is upon us. In other words, when there are nine, our country’s leadership might begin to reflect the population it represents. And, when there are nine, legislation made by women for women may lead to the abolition of femicide, the elimination of government control over women’s bodies and a future where women have not only a seat at the table, but also a voice in the conversation. When there are nine, each of us will take a stand as Justice Ginsburg did and encouraged all women to do, because “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” When there are nine, our public discourse may begin to resemble the Supreme Court principle for discussing cases: “no one speaks twice until everyone speaks once,” allowing all voices to be heard and considered. Imagine if that principle were applied to Supreme Court conversations by nine women justices! What outcomes we might have for the future of women and children in America!

To mark the passing of Justice Ginsburg by only remembering her contributions would be a missed opportunity. We believe she would have us use this time in history for making history, to implement the lessons she taught us, so when there are nine, women will be included in the decisions being made.

Written by Maria MacMullin, major gifts officer at Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support & host of the Podcast on Crimes Against Women.