“The woman suffrage amendment was introduced for the first time to the United States Congress on January 10, 1878. It was re-submitted numerous times until finally in June 1919 the amendment received approval from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Over the following year the suffragists spent their time lobbying states in order to have the amendment ratified by the required two-thirds of the states. On August 24th, Tennessee, the final state needed for ratification, narrowly signed the approval by one vote. The vote belonged to Harry Burn, who heeded the words of his mother when she urged him to vote yes on suffrage. The U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the amendment into law on August 26, 1920.”- read more
In 1970, Betty Friedan and the National Organization of Women (NOW) organized a nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality. Women of all political affiliations joined together to demand equal rights for employment, twenty-four hour child-care centers and education. The following year, 1971, Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY) introduced a bill designating August 26th of each year as Women’s Equality Day and the bill passed. Each President is authorized and encouraged to issue a proclamation annually commemorating the woman suffrage and the 1970 Strike for Equality.
In 2008, 60.4% of eligible women voted. While this percentage is higher than men, we can do better. Women fought hard and suffered for our right to vote, we need to use it. However, as Kate Farrar, points out in an article for the Huffington Post, Women’s Equality Day is no longer just about voting. She talks about the inflammatory statement made by Rep. Todd Akin and other comments made by men in power lately. And how a historic number of women are running for Congress this year.
“On this Women’s Equality Day, we should certainly celebrate the power of a woman’s vote. But let’s also celebrate a woman’s voice and the fact that we can make ourselves heard every day — not just every four years — by supporting a sea change of leadership.”
No matter your political persuasion make sure you are registered to vote. And inform yourself about the current issues and candidates. Gaining the right to vote was a very big deal but we still have a long ways to go for women’s rights.
“Today, women are nearly 50 percent of our workforce, the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools, and a growing number of breadwinners in their families. From business to medicine to our military, women are leading the fields that were closed off to them only decades ago. We owe that legacy of progress to our mothers and aunts, grandmothers and great-grandmothers — women who proved not only that opportunity and equality do not come without a fight, but also that they are possible. Even with the gains we have made, we still have work to do. As we mark this 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us reflect on how far we have come toward fully realizing the basic freedoms enshrined in our founding documents, rededicate ourselves to closing the gaps that remain, and continue to widen the doors of opportunity for all of our daughters and sons.” – President Obama’s Women’s Equality Day proclamation
What the Suffragettes did for us is why we are now able to fight for a safer and better environment. We owe them a lot, let’s make them proud and get out and vote in record numbers this year!