Friday, August 26, 2011

Women's Equality Day in the USA: What Do You Know?

Did you know that 66th Congress of the United States of America was comprised of 559 men?  Do you know how many women were in the Congress?  Yes, that's right.  0.  Zero.  Not even 1.

Did you know that the 65th Congress of the USA did have 1 woman?  Yes, that's right.  Jeannette Rankin, who first served as a Representative, a Republican, from the State of Montana, from 1917 to 1919.  She was the only woman among all the men, the first woman to serve as an elected representative ever.

A pacifist and a suffragette, Ms. Rankin opened the Congress floor in January 1918 with these questions:

“How shall we answer the challenge, gentlemen? How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy [through war] refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”

Do you know what's most significant, most ironic, about these facts?

It was not until 1920, on August 26, that the Congress afforded the right to vote to women in all states of the United States. This was 42 years after Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the amendment to the U.S. Constitution and first introduced it to the all-male government in 1878.  This was 62 years after women and men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, to sign the Declaration of Sentiments, to address the inequalities in the American democracy.  This was 144 years after the birth of the American democracy.

This Amendment reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

To celebrate the day of the passing of this Amendment, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced the following statement:

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

That statement, that joint resolution, was resolved 41 years ago.  So what do you know today?  How are we doing?  How are you doing with equality?

Quiz yourself here.

What of the historical data, to date, do you know?  Are you really happy about the equality of women today?  How many women have you voted for?  Have you voted for women and men equally?  Why not?  Is America ready for a woman president?

Read how one woman goes back to the Sacred Texts of Feminism here.

Read the 19th Amendment again here:

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