A long way, and a long way to go

Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010

The start of a new school year puts us in the mood for a pop quiz. The topic: Women's Equality Day, which, by the way is today.

1. August 26th is celebrated as Women's Equality Day to commemorate:

(a) the work women did during the Second World War; (b) the anniversary of women winning the right to vote; (c) the flappers of the 1920s; (d) the contemporary women's rights movement.

2. In what year did Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduce legislation to ensure that this important American anniversary would be celebrated?

(a) 1992; (b) 1984; (c) 1971; (d) 1965.

3. In what year did women in the United States win the right to vote?

(a) 1776; (b) 1848; (c) 1920; (d) 1946.

4. What was the name given to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed women's right to vote in the United States?

(a) Abigail Adams Amendment; (b) Sojourner Truth Amendment; (c) Susan B. Anthony Amendment; (d) Gloria Steinem Amendment.

5. Women who worked for women's right to vote were called:

(a) radical; (b) immoral; (c) suffragists; (d) all of the above.

6. The term suffragist is derived from:

(a) one who suffers; (b) a voting tablet in ancient times; (c) the Constitution; (d) the Bill of Rights.

7. How many other countries had already guaranteed women's right to vote before the campaign was won in the United States?

(a) 6; (b) 2; (c) 1; (d) 16.

8. What was the first country that granted women the right to vote?

(a) Canada; (b) Germany; (c) New Zealand; (d) United Kingdom.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote in the United States.

Just 90 years. There are women alive today who were born at a time when they weren't guaranteed the same rights as their brothers. And a lot more women -- and men -- alive today who don't know what it took to win those rights.

Nevertheless, if the numbers tell a story, women are less likely to take their right to vote for granted than men are. Data shows that in 2008, 67 percent of voting-age women were registered, compared to 62.6 percent of voting-age men. Women also are more likely to follow through and vote with 60.4 percent of women voting, compared to 55.7 percent of men. Among younger voters, the gap is wider: 47.7 percent of women 18-24 years old voted in 2008 compared to 41 percent of men in the same age group.

Curiously, more women casting ballots than men haven't translated into more women holding office than men. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, women hold 16.8 percent of the seats in the current Congress, 12 percent of the governorships and 24.5 percent of state legislative seats.

Experts, however, say discrimination is not the reason women hold fewer positions of power. Rather, it's because fewer women than men run for office and because the political process generally favors the status quo, which typically means male candidates already occupy the office.

Shockingly, not all women want to vote or think the nation is better off because women have the right to vote. For example, Ann Coulter, a conservative author and commentator, was quoted in the New York Observer in 2007 as saying, "If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president."

Coulter may not have been entirely serious, but she is not alone. State Senator Kay O'Connor told The Kansas City Star in 2001: "I'm an old-fashioned woman. Men should take care of women, and if men were taking care of women (today) we wouldn't have to vote."

Ouch. Just 90 years ago. And we -- both men and women -- still have such a long way to go.

-- Homer News


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