I don’t know whether my Great Grandmother marched for a woman’s right to vote or my Grandmother appreciated the fact she was part of the first generation of women in this country to vote after the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. I don’t know if I would have been among the marchers or fully appreciated that hard-earned right after it was won. It is easy to believe one has courage and fortitude when it is never tested.
I do know as a woman today I stand on the shoulders of those who fought for women’s equality before me. Women of my generation have the right to go to school, to rent and purchase property, to practice law and medicine, and to make a host of other choices for our lives. I’m sure I’m not alone in having done some of these things without having appreciated these choices were hard-won by the women of earlier generations. I knew too little of the battle for these rights to appreciate them properly or to understand they were neither universal nor inalienable. For me, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment is the snooze alarm following the wake-up call of the 2016 election.
We can “celebrate” the women who went before by making sure we are on the right side of what will become the history of 2020. To do that, we must:
- Educate ourselves on the struggle of women to gain the vote, both those who wrote the history and those who were forgotten by it. Consider starting with the New York Times’ Suffrage at 100 series of stories of how women won the right to vote.
- View voting as a right with a commensurate duty. In the United States, only 57% of eligible voters turn out to vote in presidential elections compared to countries like Australia in which voting is mandated and turnout is 91%. Of course, election day in Australia is on a weekend and there are plenty of ways to vote. Support actions to make voting easier in the U.S.
- Step up to oppose any and all efforts to limit this hard-earned right. Check out the League of Women Voters’ website for information on voting issues that affect you.
- Organize our votes by determining whether we will be able to place our votes in person or will need to request absentee ballots. Request those ballots. Find out how your state handles absentee ballots at Vote.org.
- Ensure family members organize their votes, as needed.
- Volunteer to work at polling places. To find out how to volunteer, go to the website of the Secretary of State of your state. You can also go to the National Association of Secretaries of State’s website and select your state.
- Support women-owned businesses like Down Etc, certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE), which support and employ women.
Get a great night’s sleep with Down Etc and then get out and vote!
Updated Links July 31, 2022