You likely remember from history classes in school that women had to fight for the right to vote. This was true not only in the United States, but throughout much of the world at various points in time. While the specific dates (August 26th, 1920) and amendments (the 19th, to be precise) might not be the easiest to remember, the fight leading up to this is certainly memorable.
Passing an amendment to the Constitution takes plenty of work. Indeed, it took a year for 36 states to ratify, with Tennessee casting the final vote in favor. If you can imagine it, the right of all women in America came down to a young legislator there who, at the urging of his mother, changed his vote at the last moment. That final battle has been recounted in numerous Hollywood films, as well as the Suffragette movement that lasted for decades.
Women Don’t Take Voting For Granted
If you take a look at who votes in elections in America, women head to the ballot box more often than men. Moreover, this trend has been increasing over the past decade. Perhaps with the shadow of the past not quite forgotten, women don’t take their right to vote for granted.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
It’s important to remember that although the Suffrage movement saw great progress on this day nearly a century ago, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the last barriers to voting were removed for all women, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. Since then, battles still rage on over voter suppression.
Women are overwhelming the primary caregiver in single-parent households. Movements to remove voting sites and increase wait times can disproportionately affect them. Recent laws also make it difficult for women who’ve changed their last name to easily cast their votes. As Paula Gunn Allen said, “the root of oppression is the loss of memory.” Though nearly 100 years have passed, it’s important to remember that the right to vote is something precious that requires protection.
The Formation of Women’s Equality Day
As many people acknowledge, the fight for equality is far from over. The turmoil of the 1970s — including the Women’s Strike for Equality March in New York City — spurred the creation of this day of recognition. In 1971, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. Every US sitting president has taken the time to acknowledge the day since then.
Organizations supporting women today are many and varied. Lean In supports women in the workplace, while Django Girls kindles a love for programming and computers in girls and women. Local support from charities like CORA help women survive and recover from domestic violence. The ACLU is one of the many groups working to protect women’s voting rights, ensuring equality for all.