Friday, August 24, 2007

Celebrating Equality

We're nearing the end of August and all most of us can think about is the start of school. But don't despair yet; it's time to celebrate! This Sunday is Women's Equality Day in the U.S., marking the date 87 years ago (1920) when women first earned the right to vote.

Suffragists Who Changed History
  • Sojourner Truth- A famous and popular public speaker of her day. She was a former slave who cared deeply about women's and African American rights. Her most famous speech was 'Ain't I a Woman?' given in 1851 at an Ohio convention.

  • Susan B. Anthony- A long with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Of the two, she was the public voice and often organized and traveled. In 1872 she tried to vote for a presidential election and was 'found guilty'. She refused to pay and no one made her. Anthony was also the first female on U.S. currency. (The coin was later replaced by the Sacajawea dollar.)

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton- In her partnership with Susan B. Anthony, she was considered the theorist and writer behind the conventions. When they founded the NWSA, she acted as president. Also, she worked to give woman equal guardianship of children, give property rights to married woman and insure divorce rights.

  • Carrie Catt- Carrie started off by being a lecturer in the woman's suffrage movement. Soon she was involved with the NWSA and was chosen to succeed Susan B. Anthony as president. (She didn't become president until after Anna Shaw.) After the 19th amendment she continued to empower women by organizing the League of Women Voters.

  • Lucretia Mott- With Elizabeth Stanton she co-wrote the "Declaration of Sentiments" which is deliberately similar to the Declaration of Independence. As a feminist and an abolitionist, she struggled between the split priorities of women's and African American rights; acting as president of the American Equal Rights Convention.
These women and countless others helped the women of day earn the right to vote. It's only right that we celebrate their achievements and all that they have done for us.

Not Separated but Also Not Equal
  • Women are paid 20 to 50 percent less than men and have a hard time getting credit and financial services.

  • Two thirds of all illiterate people in the world are women.

  • 70% of the world's poorest people are women. (United Nations)

  • Only 10% of legislators are women worldwide.

  • More than 950 American women are sexually assaulted every day. That's 3 to 4 million a year.
What Can You Do to Celebrate Woman's Equality Day?
  • If you're over 18, vote whenever you get the chance. Or once you turn 18, register to vote. It's so easy, you can even do it online.

  • Sign this petition going to prospective candidates for the 2008 elections urging them to make women's rights a priority.

  • Request a copy of "Women's Rights Are Human Rights" report.

  • Read all about the suffrage movement or rent a video about it.

  • Visit the Women's Museum in Dallas or the International Women's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland.

  • Say thank you to teachers, coaches, parents, etc. because they worked hard to get to where they are today. Women everyday make a difference by exploring new jobs and roles.

  • Write to your local newspaper or radio station to request that they cover this important holiday.

  • Visit the United Nation's website 'Women's Watch' to learn more about women making a difference and other countries' rights for women.

  • Bake a cake and eat it with your family. I don't know why this is important, but cake tastes good.

  • Most of all, enjoy being a woman and take a moment to think about the people who helped us get this far.
So everyone, have a fun weekend and a great Woman's Equality Day!

Peace, friends.

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