The cherished right of women to vote is one hundred years old this year.  On August 26th, we will celebrate Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits the states and federal government from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex. This adoption of this change helped empower women to make history over the past century. It continues to empower women today.

Today, American women cannot imagine being denied the right to vote. In fact, they are a key part of the electorate, any way you look at it. Politicians are constantly chasing the women’s vote. Younger women, suburban women, moms, women always matter in the voting booths.  

When women moved from casting votes to regularly campaigning for votes, our political system and all of society changed.  Today there are twenty-six women serving in the United States Senate, which is the highest proportion of women senators in history.  There are 101 women serving as U.S. Representatives. 

America is better because women voters became women leaders.

Women have made a huge impact on other sectors of society as well. Women have forever altered our nation’s college campuses. For decades, college enrollment for females has outnumbered males.

America is better because women voters became women leaders.

Today, women not only receive 57% of all bachelor degrees, they also account for more than half (51%)  of students currently enrolled in law schools. That was certainly not the case when a sixteen-year old student named Sandra Day applied to Stanford University in the 1940’s. 

Sandra Day was accepted to Stanford University, completed her undergraduate studies in three years and went on to earn a law degree from Stanford Law School. She made history in 1981, when she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be the first woman justice to join the Supreme Court.

“I think the important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases. ”  That’s how Sandra Day O’Connor described the importance of her appointment. 

As Justice O’Connor knows, every woman has her own unique perspective. All women don’t think alike, of course.  Each has her own unique perspective, and this diversity of opinions is helping new ideas to emerge. 

For example, one of today’s hottest topics on Capitol Hill is how to help new parents access paid leave.  President Trump helped bring this issue to the forefront, but women are helping identify and promote positive solutions.  

Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced The New Parents Act, legislation to create a voluntary option for paid parental leave by allowing parents to use a portion of their social security benefits after the birth or adoption of a child. 

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), introduced the Cradle Act, that would allow new parents to receive one, two, or three months of paid leave by giving them the option to postpone activating their social security benefits. 

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) put forward The Advancing Support for Working Families Act, this would allow families to receive a child tax credit advance for the first year of a child’s birth or when a child is adopted.  

One hundred years ago, millions of American women were not allowed to cast a vote and today members of Congress (many of whom are women) are debating how to help give more women and men better opportunities.  

As we celebrate this 100 year milestone, every American woman can be proud of this progress. Women leaders past and present, are examples of the changing face of America. Their contributions continue to improve society today and help build a better future.