One hundred years ago today Congress took an important step towards women's suffrage by passing the 19th amendment and sending it to states for ratification, which ultimately took place in 1920. This was an incredible step for women across the country and we continue to celebrate this victory today.
IWF Chairman Heather Higgins serves on the National Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission — and has much to say on why this 100 year anniversary is so important in our pop-up episode of the "She Thinks" podcast today.
IWF Policy Director Hadley Heath Manning spoke with Higgins about the progress women have made:
"It's indisputable that we've made progress, if you define progress as being able to choose the life path that you wish to choose and not having it be predetermined, where and what is appropriate for the choices that you make. That doesn't meant that there aren't challenges."
While we celebrate this progress, Higgins also stresses that "being equal is not the same thing as being the same."
Right now, Congress is considering The Equality Act, something that would actually harm this progress and take away some of that hard-earned equality.
"[We shouldn't] pretend that there are no differences between males and females when, in fact, the biology and neurology are pretty clear," said Higgins. "While we are equal — in terms of aptitudes and intellects — there are, in fact, real differences and respecting those and the choices they may drive is an important one."
What you may not know is that there was some resistance in Congress to passing the 19th amendment so many years ago. Today, it is widely accepted that American women should have the right to vote and that right should be protected, so it's difficult to understand how folks could have been against it.
One interesting factoid discussed in this conversation: Rep. Jeanette Rankin was the first woman in Congress, who was a Republican and was actually elected four years before women had the right-to-vote. As Higgins mention here, much of the suffrage movement was led by Republicans — as was the Civil Rights movement –something that is often lost in the cultural conversation.
Learn more about the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission.