When the 19th Amendment became official in 1920, it marked an incredible victory for a century-long battle. Now, a century on from that momentous date, we’ve still got work to do.
Today is a cause for celebration. It has been 100 years since the 19th Amendment was officiated, constitutionally enabling women’s right to vote. This day, 100 years ago, also saw the biggest women’s march in U.S. history, with over 100 000 people rallying in support of equal rights.
The 1920 Women’s March was record-holding until 2017 when the record was broken by an estimated 4 million marchers nation-wide taking to the streets. Although a remarkable turnout, it’s telling that 100 years since the 19th Amendment, there are still things to fight for. Pay equity is still not a reality. Women account for roughly one quarter of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. The ratio of men actors versus women actors in Hollywood films is a startling 23:1.
Clearly, there’s more progress to be made.
Why we’re celebrating
Today, we choose to celebrate the fact that we’ve come a long way since the days of having zero voice in the public sphere. The victories, small and large, continue every day. For instance, Women of Color were unable to celebrate a voting victory until the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed, a whole 45 years of protests and uphill battles after the 19th Amendment. Plus, a 2019 survey showed that 98% of Americans think that gender equality is important, or very important. The situation today is far from perfect, but it’s progress like this that makes every effort worthwhile.
The Global Situation
Gender equality is a global mission, and we are proud to do our part in ensuring that one day, women all around the world will be treated justly.
The United Nations has supported women’s rights since its conception. Its efforts really kicked off in the 1970s, which saw the International Women’s Year (1975), the first World Conference on Women (1975), the UN Decade for Women (1976 – 1985) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979). As of 2014, around 75% of countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their constitutions. However, the United Nations recognizes that just because equality exists in theory, doesn’t mean it is in practice. When crafting the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN was sure to include some components to specifically target gender inequality. Goal 5, to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ is purely dedicated to ensuring women’s rights globally.
More closely aligned to our work at the San Diego Diplomacy Council is the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), funded by the Department of State. Each year, IVLP makes a concerted effort to not only include a substantial number of women in programs but to coordinate programming specifically on women’s rights and gender equality. Some standout programs include the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, initiated in 2010, and a program for IVLP alumnae titled ‘Women Entrepreneurs: Alumni as Economic Multipliers’.
How we’re celebrating
Join us in celebrating women, and furthering the cause that our predecessors kicked off. Here are a few ways you can celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment.
- Register to vote, and encourage others to do the same. The suffragettes fought so hard to grant us this privilege. We must recognize the power of our voice, and use it for good.
- Support women-owned companies. There are countless examples out there of women paving paths to a better future through their own company. Research women-owned companies near you, and make an effort to support them.
- Participate in the #SuffrageSelfie campaign by the Women’s Museum of California. There won’t be an in-person march this year, but a social media takeover is the next best thing. Be sure to tag @womensmuseum in your pictures!
- Tell a woman in your life how much she means to you. Women make sacrifices and face challenges every day. Let’s recognize that it’s not easy being a woman, and tell your friends, mothers, and sisters how much you appreciate them.