Every August 26, we come across Women’s Equality Day and we realize all the strides we have made and all the steps we have yet to take. And with the upcoming election, women’s rights have been discussed tremendously. Hilary Clinton has made history by becoming the first woman to be the major party candidate and while this is a tremendous feat, it still makes you wonder how the wage gap still exists.
Early in the 20th century, women weren’t even given the chance to vote, but with the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the great activists of that day, that right was soon given. Those women have shaped the future and the way for other women to use their voices to speak out. Here’s a rundown of the women of the past who gave us voices and the women of the present and future who continue to speak out and loudly.
Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton
When it comes to women’s rights, the name you’ll most often hear is Susan B. Anthony. When she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met in 1851, they went on to be a force to reckon with. Throughout their lives, they pushed for women’s rights as well as African-American rights. They started with the Women’s Loyal National League which collected close to 400,000 signatures for the abolition of slavery and they started the American Equal Rights Association that pushed for equal rights for both groups. They also merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1866. In 1878, Susan B. Anthony presented the Anthony Amendment to Congress which would be an amendment to the Constitution that allowed women to vote. It was ratified in 1920 and became the Nineteenth Amendment.
Ida B. Wells
If you’ve been given an accurate taste of Black History and women’s history, Ida B. Wells’ name should’ve come up. Spending most of her life as a journalist documenting the unfair treatment of blacks, Wells’ made her career on standing up for the injustices done to others. Not only did she create organizations that gave women the opportunity to be leaders in a political sense, she is also known as one of the founders of the NAACP.
PRESENT & FUTURE
For the women looking to be empowered with positions of power, Gloria Feldt is a person to get behind. According to her site, her mission is to mold women into leadership positions. She created the organization Take the Lead “to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions.” She has a plan to do this by 2025. Feldt has a series of leadership power tools to keep women motivated and her first tool is to “know your History and you can create the future of your choice.”
In the wake of the sexual assaults and rape we see happening on college campuses, Wagatwe Wanjuki is a breath of fresh air. With the disgusting and appalling story of Brock Turner who only received a 6-month jail sentence after he was convicted of intent to commit rape, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person, it’s easy to wonder where the justice is. Wanjuki started the #SurvivorPrivilege movement. After being told to withdraw from Tufts University after her own sexual assault, she made it her mission to emphasize Title IX, a university’s obligation to respond to reported sexual violence. She has also spoken out about college and universities growing disregard for the victims of sexual assault and rape.
Vivien Labaton and Tracy Sturdivant
The founders of Make It Work are not only fighting for women’s rights but family rights as well. These women started this organization to help bring awareness to and combat the issues that are facing women and their families every day. Some of the issues they are fighting for are equal pay, childcare, and paid family leave. With growing families and the cost of living steadily rising, Make It Work is trying to make life easier for all parties involved – the parents and the children.
Although we’ve come far, there’s still a long way to go and these women have proven that. The journey isn’t easy and these women spend every day of their lives fighting for equal rights. For centuries it has seemed as if women were miles behind, but we are steadily catching up.