In July 1848, hundreds of women poured into the small town of Seneca Falls, New York. They came to discuss the “rights of woman.” Among those rights, they asserted, was the right to vote. For 72 years, the women of the Seneca Falls Convention and their ideological descendents fought to secure that right.
Finally, on August 18, 1920 – 90 years ago today – they succeeded. That day, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, securing its place in our Constitution and guaranteeing women across the country the right to cast a ballot and choose their representatives in government.
Their moment of triumph was the product of an unprecedented campaign by tens of thousands of women who carried the fight for equality through the generations – from grandmothers, to mothers, to daughters.
Most of the women who began the campaign for suffrage never lived to see victory – only one of the original signatories of the Seneca Fall’s Declaration lived to cast a ballot in the 1920 election, the first election following the passage of the 19th Amendment – and many of the women who took up the cause of suffrage sacrificed their safety and security in the effort to earn the right to vote.
As the fight for equality in the voting booth gained national prominence, suffragettes faced arrests and beatings. In one of the most infamous examples of anti-suffragette action, more than 100 suffragettes were imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1917 – their punishment for daring to picket the White House for suffrage. At Occoquan, those women were subjected to inhumane conditions, beaten, and force fed. Yet, from their suffering came progress. The plight of those women attracted national attention, and their arrest became a turning point in the struggle for the right to vote.
On this 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it is important not only to pay tribute to the courage, determination, and tenacity of those suffragettes and others who helped to secure equal voting rights for women – it is also important to consider what we can do to carry on their legacy.
Today, women are an integral part of the electorate. Across the United States, there are 78.1 million registered female voters, nearly 10 million more than the number of registered male voters. And just as the Democratic Party has led the way for the full and robust participation of women in politics since the passage of the 19th Amendment, Democratic leaders are leading the way toward full equality for women in all spheres of American life.
President Obama has demonstrated a commitment to securing full equality for women in the workplace, in education, in health care, in support for military families, and in other important areas.
As a sign of that commitment, President Obama made it a priority to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, restoring workers’ rights to challenge illegal wage discrimination in the federal courts. In fact, it was the first legislation he enacted as President. Such legislation is more important than ever. With more women working today than men – for the first time in American history – it is critical that working women aren’t shortchanged for their work.
Other legislation enacted by this Administration – from the Affordable Care Act to the Recovery Act – is leveling the playing field for women by creating more equal access to health care and facilitating greater access to jobs and opportunities.
Despite women’s gains nationally and in the workplace, there is still room for improvement. “Women continue to earn less than men, and in 2008, 28.7 percent of households headed by single women were poor, according to a U.S. Census Bureau Report. So, President Obama, Democrats in Congress, and women’s activists and organizations across the country continue to fight for full equality for women.
One of those organizations is the National Federation of Democratic Women, a group that I lead. The National Federation of Democratic Women works to unite the wonderful diversity of devoted women behind one common goal – the support of our Party and the involvement of women in the political process. We are celebrating 40 years of service. Visit our web site www.nfdw.com to join our organization. We will be celebrating our 40th annual convention in Washington D.C. May 20-22, 2011.
Pat Hobbs, President
National Federation of Democratic Women
We've been hearing that we have a "do nothing" Congress from the GOP for some time now (even as they have tried to obstruct most of the legislation passed).
Despite our disappointments, Democrats in the Congress and Obama have actually achieved quite a bit of change since 2008!
Below is a list of the 43 major laws passed so far in 2009-10 (excluding resolutions, appropriations bills and minor bills renaming post offices, etc.).
In just two years, we began health care reform, started an overhaul of the finance sector (credit cards, derivatives, banks), expanded FDA oversight to include tobacco, took back our national parks from mining and forestry, passed the first Iran sanctions since 2003 (Bush and Cheney opposed expanding Iran sanctions) and implemented programs to stimulate the economy and save jobs. We have more work to do, but that's a great deal to be proud of!
Did we get everything we had hoped? No, of course not with only 55 reliable Senate votes and a GOP that used the Filibuster more than any time in history.
I want us to do more to help our economy, fix health care and hold people accountable.
We've made a decent start, and if we don't get out there, we could lose much of what we have gained and lose our ability to improve on what we've started.
Don't let anyone take that progress away.
|CONGRESS||MAJOR BILLS PASSED|
|111th (Dem House/Dem Senate/Dem Pres.)||43 (with four months left)|
|110th (Dem House/Dem Senate/GOP Pres.)||30|
|109th (GOP House/GOP Senate/GOP Pres.)||45|
|Public Laws, 111th Congress (selected)|
|Banking and financial services regulation package||H.R.4173||P.L.111-203|
|Cash for clunkers||H.R.2346||Title XIII, P.L.111-32|
|Cash for clunkers, supplemental appropriations||H.R.3435||P.L.111-47|
|COBRA, extend benefits period; extend termination date eligibility to Feb. 28, 2010||H.R.3326||Div. B, P.L.111-118|
|COBRA, extend benefits period; extend termination date of eligibility to Mar. 31, 2010||H.R.4691||Sec. 3, P.L.111-144|
|COBRA, extend benefits period; extend termination date of eligibility to May 31, 2010||H.R.4851||Sec. 3, P.L.111-157|
|Congressional pay raise, none for 2010||H.R.1105||Div. J, P.L.111-8|
|Congressional pay raise, none for 2011||H.R.5146||P.L.111-165|
|Credit card regulations, tighten||H.R.627||P.L.111-24|
|Debt limit, increase to 12.394 trillion||H.R.4314||P.L.111-123|
|Debt limit, increase to 14.294 trillion||H.J.Res.45||P.L.111-139|
|Deepwater Horizon oil spill, authorize advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund
(For additional oil spill legislation, see: Oil spills, liability and costs)
|Derivatives, government regulation of over-the-counter markets||H.R.4173||Title VII, P.L.111-203|
|Digital TV, delay transition until June 12||S.352||P.L.111-4|
|Executive compensation, expand regulatory oversight||H.R.4173||Title IX, P.L.111-203|
|Haiti, accelerate income tax benefits||H.R.4462||P.L.111-126|
|Haiti, debt relief||H.R.4573||P.L.111-158|
|Haiti, increase emergency aid available to Americans returning after earthquake||S.2949||P.L.111-127|
|Hate crimes, expand federal definition to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability||H.R.2647||Div. E, P.L.111-84|
|Health care reform
(Also included in: Reconciliation Act)
|Homebuyer tax credit, extend and modify||H.R.3548||Sec. 11-13, P.L.111-92|
|Homebuyer tax credit, extend through Sept. 30, 2010||H.R.5623||P.L.111-198|
|Iran, broad range of sanctions and penalties||H.R.2194||P.L.111-195|
|Lands bill, omnibus||H.R.146||P.L.111-11|
|Medicare "doc fix", through Mar. 31, 2010||H.R.4691||Sec. 5, P.L.111-144|
|Medicare "doc fix", through May 31, 2010||H.R.4851||Sec. 4, P.L.111-157|
|Medicare "doc fix", through Nov. 30, 2010||H.R.3962||P.L.111-192|
|Mortgages, allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms||S.896||P.L.111-22|
|National service, expand programs||H.R.1388||P.L.111-13|
|PATRIOT Act, extend certain provisions||H.R.3961||P.L.111-141|
| Reconciliation Act
(SEE ALSO: Health care reform)
| Student aid, modify loan programs
(Included in: Reconciliation Act)
|H.R.4872||Title II, P.L.111-152|
|Tobacco, give FDA the authority to regulate||H.R.1256||P.L.111-31|
|Unemployment benefits, extend||H.R.3548||P.L.111-92|
|Unemployment benefits, extend to Feb. 28, 2010||H.R.3326||Div. B, P.L.111-118|
|Unemployment benefits, extend to Apr. 05, 2010||H.R.4691||Sec. 2, P.L.111-144|
|Unemployment benefits, extend to Jun. 02, 2010||H.R.4851||P.L.111-157|
|Unemployment benefits, extend to Nov. 30, 2010||H.R.4213||P.L.111-205|
source: US Senate website
first published by Andrew Lachman-California Democratic Party-Democratic National Committeeman