Women Must Join Together and Speak Up, Step Up, and March Right Up to Those in Power
The Women’s Marches that took place across the nation on January 19, 2019, are part of a tradition of women joining together to effect change. Women march to stand up for their own rights and the right to protect their families, to protect children, and to protect other women. Today, they are met with criticism, dismissal, verbal attacks on the movement, and on individuals just as their predecessors were.
After more than 150 years of demanding their rights as citizens of the United States, American women gained the vote. Though some states granted women suffrage in 1918, full women’s suffrage became law in 1920. Yet women had been active in politics prior to suffrage. Until recently, Congress has not reflected the proportion of the population of women in America. We must elect even more women to Congress until there is equal representation.
As our foremothers did in the past, it is time for modern women to unite and ensure Congress passes laws that benefit women and children and families rather than corporations. The Progressive women who organized women’s clubs and organizations in the late 1800s and early 1900s effected much change in America even before they gained the vote. They lobbied male voters at the polls and they lobbied politicians with their demands for safe food, safe homes, and safe schools. They lobbied for change at local and state levels. Their interest in social issues produced many important changes.
We must thank women’s organizations of the past for any number of laws, policies, and freedoms, including:
- Fire safety in public schools and public buildings
- Healthy food in public schools
- Limiting minimum age and minimum work hours for children
- Municipal housekeeping: removing dirt and germs and other dangers at the source
- Pure food ordinances that called for food inspection
- Free kindergartens, school reform
- Healthcare for poor children
- Raising the age of consent at which a girl could consent to sexual intercourse
- Minimum wage laws
- 15-minute breaks and lunches for workers
- Limiting age at which children can work and the number of hours worked
- Social services for poor communities
In past women’s movements, middle class white women generally did not work equally, if at all, with women of color or poor women. Middle and upper-class white women dominated the earlier movements. However, if today’s women’s movement is to be effective, it must include women of all races, all religions, all ages, and all backgrounds and encourage them to participate equally.
Women are a powerful force and united we can change the course of our city, state, and nation.
Since many women today have jobs, careers, and families to care for, it is often difficult for some to attend weekly or monthly planning meetings, but with the internet and various forms of social media available, women can organize and communicate locally and nationally.
We should follow the example of our foremothers and lobby governments to pass the necessary laws to protect families, women, and children.
Women must fight for the needs of all women whether they are students, immigrants, citizens, employees, or stay at home mothers. They must fight for the welfare of all children and the need for health care, education, and healthy foods. We cannot afford to be divided by race, economics, religion, or education.
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