“As we celebrate the last 95 years of progress in advancing women’s rights, let us rededicate ourselves to the idea that our nation is not yet complete: there is still work to do to secure the blessings of our country for every American daughter.”
– President Barack Obama, from the declaration of today, August 26, 2015, as Women’s Equality Day in the United States, in recognition of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, barring sex discrimination in voting rights.
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Ninety-four years ago today, women in the United States were finally accorded the right to vote in every state and in federal elections. It was a long time coming, starting out with Abigail Adams reminding her husband John to “remember the ladies” during the early days of the republic and progressing through generations of women working for the cause, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. In commemoration, today is celebrated as Women’s Equality Day.
What is so disturbing is that equality is still a work in progress. The country is still struggling with basics like equal pay for equal work. Some people feel they should be allowed to interfere with women’s personal health decisions. Women have higher rates of poverty. More women are low-wage workers, even though women have higher education levels. The work that women have traditionally done caring for home and family is not considered part of the economy of the country, unless someone else is being paid (poorly) to do it. Women are in only a small portion of leadership roles in government, companies, and educational institutions. Few jobs offer the flexibility that women want to both make a living and have a life.
Policies that would help bring greater equality to women would help men, too. Many men would benefit from greater workplace flexibility and initiatives such as paying a living wage. When will we celebrate a Women’s Equality Day in recognition of having achieved that goal, instead of as a commemoration of women’s suffrage?