Today, August 26, is Women’s Equality Day, created in commemoration of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. In 1971 Congress designated this date to remember the amendment that gave women an equal say in the voting process, as well as to think about and focus on equality looking forward. JWA has a great roundup of recent interesting articles relating to women’s suffrage, as well as a post on the lessons we (in the U.S.) should take away from it. I’d recommend checking them out.
Meanwhile, I’d also like to take some time to think about the lack of equality that still exists for many women today across the world. Yes, there are some issues in the United States, but there are some huge and pressing issues across the world. For example, take Equality Now, an organization whose mission is to protect the human rights of females across the world. Currently, it has campaigns focusing on rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and denying women equal access to economic opportunity and political participation. Some of these things we think about on a regular basis, but most often we, or I at least, just live our regular lives. Think about it—how often do you think about girls sold into prostitution or the fact that female genital mutilation can lead to infertility, hemorrhages, urine retention, and open sores, among other things? And the fact that 98% of women in Somalia go through genital mutilation? For me, it’s not that often. So today, I’d say, think about those things for a while. And tell people. Maybe do a Google search and find out some things, and send some links around to raise awareness. And then, if you feel inflamed, take action by writing a letter to officials around the world about issues that are going on right now. (Examples: raids on women’s shelters, giving women equality under laws, etc.) Maybe it won’t do that much, but maybe it will—and the act of investing yourself in an issue will probably make you feel more connected to it and more likely to care about and discuss it with others.
Also, if you’re interested: President Obama’s speech about Women’s Equality Day. He talks about the gender pay gap, lack of women in science, business, and Congress, and other issues in America, as well as his hopes for working on women’s equality issues inside and outside of the U.S. He also talks about how he established the White House Council on Women and Girls in order to try to deal with these issues (did you know it has its own blog?). The creation of the council is in itself important as a symbol, but it also seems (from reading through this blog) that the administration is interested in furthering women’s equality, from the rights of Native American women to women entrepreneurs across Africa. That’s also worth a read.