Guest Blog by OVF Director of Special Projects Marina Mecl

Women's Equality Day Collage by Marina MeclEvery year when August 26 is nearing, I feel a tug at my heart.

Women’s Equality Day was designated by a joint resolution of Congress in 1971 at the behest of Bella Abzug. It’s easy for me to remember the year because it’s when I moved back to Europe.

Bella was right to insist on an official designation of this day: it means we can never forget the significance of the signing of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution in 1920 which gave women in the United States the right to vote.

To me, this day not only commemorates the contribution of the suffragettes and the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it reminds me of the wonderful women in my own family and all the women of all races, religion and cultures in the United States – past and present – who have helped me become a woman, that is to say an equal member of society and a person with self-respect and confidence.

In an election year, August 26 also reminds me that it’s time to get ready to exercise my right to vote again. I study the candidates, check how they measure up on the issues important to me, and take my annual look at how equally women are represented in our government.

Although still far less represented than men, it is encouraging that a record number of seats are held by women today.

I’ll make an aside to mention age demographics as well. While visiting the Constitution Center in Philadelphia a few years ago, I was surprised to learn at how young our founding fathers were when they launched our country. Their average age was much younger than that of today’s Congressional representatives! In fact, Congress is now older than it ever has been.

Gender and Age of the Current Congress

Gender in the Senate
17 are female
83 are male

Age in the Senate
1 Senator is 36   
8 are 40 – 49
30 are 50 – 59
34 are 60 -69
27 are over 70

Gender in the House of Representatives
1 Representative is 29
18 are 30 – 39
68 are 40 – 49
155 are 50 – 59
143 are 60 – 69
54 are over 70

Age in the House of Representatives
76 are female
363 are male

May Women’s Equality Day be a reminder to ALL of us to express our precious right to vote! Look up your candidates, see where they stand on the issues, make your choice and vote on November 2, 1010 – whether you live "at home" or abroad!

Graphic montage by Marina Mecl
Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Carrie C. Catt, Sacagawea, Lucretia Mott

Further Reading on Women’s Equality Day and Other Election Resources

The Woman’s Vote: Who’s Who
A compilation of biographies of suffragettes by Beverly Bandler, June 13, 2010 from the Federation of Women’s Clubs Overseas

Running Start
A nonpartisan organization that provides young women and girls with the skills and confidence they need to become the political leaders of tomorrow

Congress.org
Nonpartisan information about Congress including more demographic information

Project Vote Smart
Nonpartisan information on elected officials' voting records and candidates' positions

 

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