On Sunday, August 26, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is celebrating Women’s Equality Day, and we’re inviting women around the world to celebrate with us! On August 26 and the days leading up, share a photo of you and your female role model with the hashtags, #SeeHerBeHer and #WomensEqualityDay.
In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but it also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
SWE supports diversity and inclusion in engineering, technology and all other disciplines, and supporting women is at the core of that focus. We are actively engaged in developing strategies and creating programs that empower women to reach their fullest potential. With the #SeeHerBeHer campaign for #WomensEqualityDay, we hope to create a conversation, to inspire sharing and to empower women to advance and succeed wherever they are!
To join the movement, make sure to follow SWE on Twitter: @SWETalk
On August 26, or in the days leading up, share a photo of your female role model with the hashtags #SeeHerBeHer and #WomensEqualityDay. Tag SWE in your post so we can interact with you!
Adopting the 19th Amendment
The adoption of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 26, 1920 was a victory in the long struggle for women’s rights. Following decades of concerted effort that included marches, letter-writing campaigns, speeches, editorials, civil disobedience, jail, and even being force fed, women in the United States finally won the right to vote.
It may be hard to imagine, but less than 100 years ago, women in the United States and elsewhere lacked the rights taken for granted today. From having education and a career, owning property and bank accounts, deciding whether to marry or have children or to participate in the democratic process by voting — these aspects (and more) of self-determinism were denied to women.
Contrast the passion of the suffragists with current data on voter turnout and the difference is stark. According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, turnout for the 2014 congressional elections — 41.9 percent — was at its lowest mark since 1978, the year the bureau began tracking voting and citizenship status.
In 1916, the suffrage movement was at a turning point. Founded by Alice Paul, Ph.D., the National Woman’s Party had galvanized support and made the bold decision to picket the White House. No other group had ever done so.
From June of 1917 until the spring of 1919, more than 500 women were arrested for picketing and given harsh sentences. While in jail, Alice Paul and Rose Winslow initiated a hunger strike, which was taken up by others. Subsequently, they were brutally force fed. Winslow recorded her experience on notes smuggled from jail. She wrote: “We are making this hunger strike so that women fighting for liberty may be considered political prisoners … God knows, we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.”
Given the convictions and sacrifices of these foremothers, any current excuse for not voting is especially weak by comparison. The best way to thank these courageous foremothers is to exercise the right to vote in the upcoming elections. Please follow SWE’s social media and the soon-to-be-released Fall issue of SWE Magazine for details on voter registration.