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Women’s Equality – Are we there yet? By Star Bustamonte

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By Star Bustamonte

TWH – Today marks the 101st anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which secured voting rights for women on August 26, 1920. Women’s Equality Day is celebrated today, first celebrated in 1971, and officially designated through a joint resolution of Congress in 1973.

Image credit: Clerk of the House – NARA – Public Domain

Prominent voices across the spectrum and a variety of leaders within government and business have issued statements as they do each year. The theme from The National Women’s History Alliance for 2021 is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.”

With everything going on across the U.S., today’s celebration is likely to be a bit muted and even lost in the torrent of news both domestically and internationally.

President Biden issued an official proclamation recognizing the day while also stressing the importance of voting rights for everyone. His proclamation began with these words:

Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, a reminder not only of the progress women have won through the years, but of the important work that remains to be done. One hundred and one years ago, the ratification of the 19th Amendment moved our Nation one essential step closer to fulfilling its foundational promise — establishing at long last that no American’s right to vote could be denied or abridged on the basis of gender. As we reflect on the decades-long effort to win the fight for universal suffrage, we also remember the women of color who helped lead the movement to ratify the 19th Amendment, whose own rights would still be denied for years to come despite their hard-earned victory. We celebrate their extraordinary courage and resolve, and rededicate ourselves to the work we still have ahead of us to protect voting rights across our country.

And concluded with these:

Today, as we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we recognize the pioneers whose fight for suffrage paved the way for future generations of leaders — and we recognize our duty to continue that fight to ensure that our daughters can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as our sons. Let us honor the efforts of trailblazers and barrier-breakers with meaningful action to promote gender equality and make exercising the right to vote more equitable and accessible for all. NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2021, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate and continue to build on our country’s progress towards gender equality, and to defend and strengthen the right to vote.

While it is certainly important for the president of the United States to offer a proclamation on historic occasions like today, the words of Secretary of the Interior, Deborah Haaland are even more powerful.

From within the Pagan community, Rev. Selena Fox who has long been an advocate for the rights of women and Witches and Pagans, shared this to her Facebook Page:

There is also a certain irony that as of press time the U.S.’s first woman vice president, Kamala Harris, has been busy working in southeast Asia and has yet to issue any statement on the occasion of the day.

For women of color, the right to vote did not become a reality until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, and another decade before voting protections would include the diversity of languages spoken by many U.S. citizens, as Biden noted in his proclamation:

When the 19th Amendment was ratified, millions of women across the country could finally make their voices heard at the ballot box. But even with its ratification, millions were denied those rights by law or by practice through poll taxes, literacy tests, and campaigns of violence and terror that targeted voters of color. It took another 45 years before the Voting Rights Act secured the voting rights of millions of Americans of color, and an additional 10 years before voting protections would reflect the many languages Americans speak.

This year in particular is one to celebrate since for the first time in history there are more women serving in highest-ranking positions within the U.S. than ever before. Kamala Harris is not only the first woman to serve as vice president, but also the first Black and South Asian-American to do so. Deb Haaland is the first Native American woman to serve as Secretary of the Interior which also oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Nancy Pelosi serves as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

In a year that has seen considerable turmoil from misinformation and disinformation, today is yet another reminder of the rights women have fought for and are continually forced to defend.

The Equal Rights Amendment continues to hang in limb as it has since 1972, t