26 Aug Ain’t I A Woman?
“I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. … If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it; the men better let them.”
–Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman? Delivered 1851, Women’s Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio
In 1920, after decades of organizing and mobilizing, American women won the right to vote. Fifty years later, Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which certified and gave women the right to vote. Fast forward to 2022, 102 years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, women are still subjected to excessive levels of violence, workplace discrimination, unequal pay, and most recently, denied their right to choose when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
As a society, we only go so far without genuine cultural, political, and systemic shifts. As we celebrate the victories of the past on this 49th celebration of Women’s Equality Day, we honor and remember Black women pioneers who were integral leaders in the struggle for equality like Pauli Murray, one of the co-founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Not only was she a brilliant scholar who was the first African American to earn a JSD from Yale Law School, but as a civil rights activist and feminist, she also influenced Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We honor Unita Blackwell for reminding us that we have the power to change the circumstances we were born into. An outspoken critic of racial and economic inequality, Blackwell was the first Black woman to be elected mayor in Mississippi. Finally, we remember Recy Taylor for her bravery in breaking the silence regarding sexual assault and violence against black women. Using the tools of testimony and protest, she provided a model for black women to reclaim their bodies and dignity.
Today, women of color, poor women, and immigrant women still face significant barriers that prevent access to political power, fundamental human rights, and reproductive services. However, California is leading the way in ensuring a woman’s right to choose is protected. A recent poll shows strong support for a ballot measure responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Per the poll, 80% of registered voters consider abortion to be important in the upcoming November 2022 election, and 71% plan to vote for Proposition 1, an amendment to the California constitution that would prohibit the state from interfering with a woman’s right to an abortion and guarantees access to contraceptives.
Call To Action: You can support gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide by getting involved in several ways. Take part in one of the UN Women’s campaigns; raise awareness on social media using the hashtag #WomensEqualityDay; or donate to groups here in Los Angeles that center gender equity and equality as their mission. Your voice matters. Your actions make it real!