News / USA

    Women's Right to Vote in US Hits 90th Anniversary

    The 19th Amendment went to Congress in 1918 and was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920, earning American women the right to vote
    The 19th Amendment went to Congress in 1918 and was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920, earning American women the right to vote

    Multimedia

    This year marks the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women in United States the right to vote.  After seven decades of activism, American women cast their first ballots in the presidential elections of 1920.

    Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who almost won the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, and Sarah Palin, who was that year's Republican nominee for vice president: three women who have had an undeniable impact on American politics.  Their visibility is a testament to the advancement of women's rights in America.  But their achievements build on the efforts of women more than a century ago, who began pushing for a basic democratic right, the right to vote.

    The movement started with a group of activists led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who in 1848 publicly claimed that American women deserved equal rights under the law with men.

    "The suffragists were middle-aged, middle class to upper class wives and mothers. They had gone to college or high school.  They were somewhat in privileged positions and they understood that without access to the ballot box their lives were not in their hands," said Susan Scanlan, president of the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington.

    The suffragists' activism died down with the beginning of the Civil War.  But the voting rights struggle re-emerged 50 years later with Alice Paul, a lawyer and a major figure in the suffrage movement.  One day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration in 1913, Alice Paul organized an elaborate parade on Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue to get America's attention.

    "No one had ever seen so many women mobilized on the street, in various colors representing different groups: socialites, workers, educated women, women of color, some men's groups. It was absolutely spectacular and the women presented their cause for a federal amendment, as well as for a state amendment making sure that suffrage was everywhere," said Elisabeth Crum, Outreach Manager at the Sewell-Belmont Museum.

    The suffragists got plenty of media attention, but little public support.  So in 1917, they started picketing the White House, an unprecedented act at the time.  Many women were arrested and sent to jail, but public opinion shifted.  The 19th Amendment went to Congress in 1918 and was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920.  American women had finally earned the right to vote.

    "It was probably the most important thing to happen to women in the last 100 years because it gave them full rights as citizens. Women's responsibilities and roles behind the scenes were probably the same before suffrage as they were after but they were seen as actual voting people with real rights and a potential constituency that could be appealed to by the candidates," noted Jennifer Lawless of the American University's Women in Politics Institute.

    The suffragists also pushed for marriage and divorce rights, property rights and equal pay with men, a struggle that took decades and on some issues is still going on.  While a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution failed to gain ratification in 1982, American women do vigorously exercise their right to vote.  Recent elections show they vote in higher numbers than men - and vote differently.

    "In the 2008 elections eight million more women voted than men in the presidential elections," added Susan Scanlan.  "Women always tend to favor family issues, education issues, welfare and men are more aggressive in supporting international affairs, budgetary issues and defense issues."

    Nine decades after American women gained the right to vote there is still a lot of work to be done.  Women represent only 17 percent of the memberships of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  But women like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are making their mark on American politics and sending a clear message, American women are a force to be reckoned with.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.