2020 marks 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ensuring the right to vote for most women. Washington was a little ahead of the curve, giving women the right to vote in 1910, a full decade before the passage of the 19th Amendment. Washington was the first state in the 20th century and the fifth state in the Union to enact women’s suffrage.
By commemorating the Suffrage Centennial, Washingtonians celebrate the long and arduous road to the achievement of women’s suffrage, the continuing struggle for women’s rights and the significant role of women in public and private life.
The 19th Amendment opened up political influence to women, but not all shared in suffrage for some time. Black women were often barred from polls through much of the 20th century; Native American and Asian American women faced citizenship bars for many years.
The anniversary is about remembering the progress that has been made—and the progress yet to come.
Susan B. Anthony, a powerful voice in the women’s suffrage movement, once said: “There will never be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”
Since the hard-won ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1919, women across the United States—from every race, religion and political party—have used their voices and their votes to make historic contributions to the growth and strength of our great nation.
Though women are outnumbered in public office three to one and the U.S. has yet to elect a woman president, women vote in greater numbers than men.
In January 2019, a record-setting 102 women were seated in the U.S. House of Representatives. In this historic Congress, women comprise nearly a quarter of its voting membership for the first time ever.
Challenges still remain today, particularly for women of color. And progress for women often feels painfully slow.
The history of the women’s movement is still being written. There are battles ahead, over reproductive rights, gender equality in the workplace, and ending voter suppression.
There is still a “motherhood trap”—childless women are over-represented at the top level because it is still so hard to balance caring responsibilities with a career.
Let’s honor the women of color who fought tirelessly for the right to vote. And let’s recommit ourselves to a women’s movement that stands up for the rights of all women.