by Mary Griggs
Women’s Equality Day is commemorated on August 26 to celebrate the right to vote by women in the United States. It was granted on this day in 1920. The lessons of the fight for suffrage have even greater resonance today among progressives fighting for equality.
Our feminist foremothers succeeded in getting the vote by working locally. They started in the states and territories and expanded from their work there to lobbying on the national level. We need to continue to work locally while we work on putting greater numbers of women into Congress and, someday, the White House.
In the first place, you must vote. Then, consider serving on city, parish and state Boards and commissions; heck, go ahead and attend meetings of your city council and state legislature to give numbers in support of or to testify on issues that interest and affect you. Your vote and your voice are your strongest weapons against oppression.
We must not be seduced by promises of quick fixes or discouraged by early setbacks. While our elected representatives and corporate bosses might not be interested in making long term investments in equality, we must continue to press our progressive agenda. Getting the vote for women took 70 years—that’s three generations of women (and enlightened men) working toward a goal that many wouldn’t see during their lifetimes.
My father used to ask us kids, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is one bite at a time. Each mouthful is another bite closer to full and equal rights for all people.