Women’s Equality Day August 26th… What Equality?
Posted by Trevor on 25 August 2013 | 5 Comments
It will have passed most people’s notice that August 26th is designated Women’s equality day. The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.
The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. I find it mind-boggling that here we are in 2013, 135 years on, and still women do not have equality anywhere.
Sure, the trend is positive in the western world; Women currently hold 20% of the Senate and 18% of the House of Representatives. 17% of mayors are women. Record highs perhaps, but nowhere near equality.
The trend in business is not positive. Only 4% of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women. 138 billionaires are women but that is just 2% of the total.
Much work to be done.
In the rest of the world women are as persecuted as ever. You may have noted a recent case in Dubai where a Norwegian businesswoman was raped, and when she reported the crime she was arrested and sentenced to prison for having extra-marital relations. The rapist was sentenced only for extra marital relationships and received a lesser sentence. Political outcry caused the ruler to overturn the sentence but only after several months of political pressure and a viral Internet campaign.
For all women out there who find themselves in a position of inequality, which let’s be honest is probably most of you, I encourage you to find the same fighting spirit as the heroes of the women’s movement of the 1800s
Emma Willard addressed the New York Legislature in 1819 on the subject of education of women and was pelted with books. Thomas Jefferson retorted that women’s education should be confined to ornaments and the amusements of life like dancing and drawing. Emma Willard was a true hero.
Dr. Harriot Hunt, female physician twice refused admission to Harvard because of her sex. She eventually organized the ladies Physiological Society. A true pioneer.
Antoinette Brown, the first woman admitted to theological school, but upon graduating in 1850 her name was left off the class list. Active in the antislavery work she taught colored students. She risked her life for equality. A warrior.
Lucy Stone, attacked by mobs for lecturing on women’s rights in 1847 married Henry Blackwell and declared at the ceremony their equal rights and renounced obedience by marriage. Pelted, stoned and abused. A true leader.
Amelia Bloomer, a New York State postmistress who invented the Bloomer garment that freed women from the bonds of women’s costume. The Bloomer was described as Reverend John Todd, a best selling author, as “becoming semi men with all the grace and mystery gone.” Every woman’s savior (although even today men would be unlikely to agree )
Angelina Gimke “Let us first wake up the nation to lift millions of slaves from the dust, and turn them into men and then… it will be an easy matter to take millions of females from their knees and set them on their feet, or in other words transform them from babies into women.” A true free-thinker.
Margaret Fuller “There exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward woman as toward slaves…” A true thought-leader of the 1800s
Frances Wright “I shall venture the assertion, that, until women assume the place in society which good sense and good feeling alike assign to them, human improvement must advance but feebly…” and last but not least…
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott who led the first Women’s Rights Convention in history at Seneca Falls… “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…”
To women everywhere I say… please never stop fighting for equality. Our future as a peaceful and successful race depends upon your success.