This post was first published on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women's Equality Day last year on August 26. It is fitting to ponder the advances women in the United States have made in the last 91 years, as we watch Saudi Arabia move in the same direction. Today, Saudi Arabia’s ruler, King Abdullah, said that, beginning in 2013, women will be appointed to the shura council, which offers policy advice to his regime, and that in 2015 women would be allowed to vote and run for municipal councils.
It's been a fascinating mothering week. Monday morning my darling daughter bounded out of the car and into the whirlwind of change that envelopes high school freshmen girls. She leapt into the school year with as much enthusiasm as she had for kindergarten.
Monday evening she gushed with excitement about all the good things to come, and announced that high school is the best time of life, and that nothing could ever be better than turning 16 and life would just be grand all through high school. Having had a less than pleasant overall high school experience myself (that's another story), I quickly shot back that if sixteen is her best year she'll have had a very sorry life, and that perhaps she should consider that the late 40's were more likely the prime of one's life. She rolled right over my grumpinees and then said with absolute certainty, "Well, I know 18 is the best because then you get to vote." I mumbled more middle-aged disagreement but she wasn't listening anyway so I just let it go.
But she was right about that, and I've thought about it quite a lot the last day or so. How easy it is to take for granted the gifts of our culture, and the struggles of our sisters to bring women in the US this right. I'm sure you all know that tomorrow, August 26, is Women's Equality Day. It's the 90th anniversary of the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Here's the language from the Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971, designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day:
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.
The National Women's History Project has more about the history of Women's Equality Day on their site.
Darling Daughter, you are right. Turning 18 is great. I'll be there to light the candles for you, and to take you to register to vote.