March 3, 2013 marks 100 years for the Women Suffragists March. I think the best way to sum this up is a quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!” But it was a recognized quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in her time as one of the most powerful women in America.
Indulge me for a bit while we step back in time to March 3, 1913. Woodrow Wilson arrived in Washington for his inauguration as President of the United States. When he arrived he was dismayed to find there was not crowd to greet him. Where was everyone? Pennsylvania Avenue was hosting a woman suffrage parade. Five thousand women sporting purple, violet, and gold banners had united under the suffragist leader Alice Paul to march through Washington and demand their right to vote. The crowd was hostile to these women but publicity was gained for their cause.
Society had challenged women’s efforts to enter public life. Through the 1890′s, “scientific” reports were released showing too much education could seriously hurt the female reproductive system. In 1905 former President Grover Cleveland wrote in the Ladies Home Journal that female voting would upset the “natural equilibrium so nicely adjusted to the attribute and limitations…”. These women pressed on and believed their vote was important and by 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified. It granted 26 million women (half of the nation’s population at that time) the right to vote.
It has taken almost 100 years from these women, who were suffragists for equality and for their right to be heard, before their voice made a difference. The most recent election for President of the United States had the most women voters ever and more women voted than men.
I am one of the Arkansas Delegates for Vision 2020, an initiative of Drexel University College of Medicine, to work with each state and with organizations to create awareness and promote education and equality for women by the year 2020 – the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. For information please visit http://www.drexel.edu/vision2020/
So in taking 100 years from the Suffragists to women being able to make a difference in an election, there are still areas where women need equality. In the area of senior leadership – women hold only 18% of these positions. And regarding wages, women still earn less than a man for the same job and qualifications – 77 cents to the man’s dollar. Our goals are to reduce these inequalities, if not solve them, by the 100th anniversary of the right for Women to vote. We want to have full equality of women and have their voices recognized.