The Brave Fight to Achieve the 19th Amendment
Every March since a Presidential proclamation in 1994, we celebrate Women’s History Month. We honor women’s contributions in American history, recognizing their social, economic, cultural and political achievements.
The movement was started in Santa Rosa, California by The Education Task Force of Sonoma County. It began as “Women’s History Week” March 8 in 1978.
This year’s theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote,” was selected by The National Women's History Alliance. It honors "the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”
Women's Voting Rights and its Valiant Sheroes
Women were given voting rights when the Senate passed the amendment on June 4, 1919. This was thanks to the work of the National Woman's Party (NWP), a militant group focused on the passage of a national suffrage amendment. Tennessee was the final state to ratify the amendment. Women's voting rights became law on August 18, 1920.
Achieving the right to vote was a long fight led by brave and tenacious women. Here are five of them:
- Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Anthony was a champion of temperance, abolition, labor rights, equal pay for equal work and the women's suffrage movement. She was denied a chance to speak at a convention because she was a woman. She later realized that no one would take women in politics seriously unless they had the right to vote.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
Stanton organized the first women’s rights convention in 1848. She also organized the National Women’s Loyal League in 1863 and the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1855. She was an advocate of liberal divorce laws and reproductive self-determination.
- Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)
Mott founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. She dedicated her life to equality and organized the first women’s rights convention. Mott promoted reform of all laws that were detrimental to women's access to equal property rights and education.
- Alice Paul (1885–1977)
Paul was president of the National Women’s Party. Its members, known as the “Silent Sentinels,” picketed the White House in 1917. They were the first group to take such action.
- Lucy Burns (1879-1966)
Burns attended Vassar College and Yale University. She created the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage along with Alice Paul.
The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations. — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Winning women’s voting rights was nearly a 40-year battle won by brave American women. Thanks to them we have the right to participate in our civic duty. We can contribute to this great country’s progress. We can elect leaders who will advocate for the people and by the people.
Today, women’s movements around the world continue to move the needle toward equal pay, reproductive, maternity and education rights. They carry on the fight against sexism, racism and economic inequality.
Let’s celebrate and empower the women who so bravely gave us the right to speak up and be heard.