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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Appreciating women’s history for more than a month

Walking around the UA campus, it’s difficult to fully grasp the suffering and risks that those strong and brave women of the past endured to grant the women of today the freedoms and opportunities now taken for granted. It seems like centuries ago that women were restricted to cooking and child rearing; powerless, inferior and victimized. But it’s important to remember that the progress toward true equality is ongoing by recalling the recent past and the women that questioned their society and broke from the chains of sexism.

Seneca Falls, N.Y., was home to the first women’s rights convention in 1848, which resulted in the signing of a Declaration of Sentiments outlining grievances and an agenda for the movement. In May of 1869 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association with the goal of achieving voting rights for women through a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.

Colorado made history as the first state that adopted an amendment granting women the right to vote in 1893, swiftly followed by Utah and Idaho in 1896; Washington in 1910; California in 1911; Oregon, Kansas and Arizona in 1912; and so on and so forth. In 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage in order to pursue the passage of a federal amendment to grant women the right to vote.

Originally written by Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878, the federal woman suffrage amendment was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1919. A year later, on Aug. 26, women were granted the right to vote in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Margaret Sanger established the American Birth Control League in 1921. After seven years of fighting the courts for her initial attempt at opening the first U.S. birth-control clinic, Sanger won support of the courts and opened a clinic in New York City in 1923. Then, in 1942 the American Birth Control League that Sanger founded evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which continues to provide reproductive health care, sex education and information to women and men worldwide and promote informed and independent decisions.

In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved birth control pills. The Supreme Court struck down the last remaining state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, and in 1973, the supreme court ruling on Roe v. Wade superseded the anti-abortion laws of many states and established a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. When questioned again, the decision of Roe v. Wade was upheld once again by the Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Throughout this time, women were working toward parity in the work place, equality under the law, legal restriction on sexual harassment and gender discrimination and much more.

Today, the fight to respect a woman’s right to choose rages on, currently playing a major role in the never-ending quest to pass a health care reform bill. Now women are not only able to vote, but two of the prominent candidates in the last election were women.

But as Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “”with great power comes great responsibility.”” Though these women took great strides towards equality, there are steps yet to be taken. Unfortunately, much of the attention women — one woman in particular — are receiving is negative.

The legacy that Sarah Palin is currently leaving is one of contradictions, incompetency, fickleness and fear mongering. As the originator of the fallacious “”death panels”” rumor, detractor of explicit sexual education despite her grandson recently born out of wedlock and viewer of Russia from her backyard, Palin and her followers are weighing down the equality and respect that the aforementioned women, and others like them, have spent decades working for.

No one is perfect, and misspeaking is perfectly human. But when you represent a group of people that have incessantly fought for their rights and respect as women have, it is your responsibility and privilege to do everything in your power to set an admirable example for future generations and demand the respect of the world with intellectual and sensible actions and speeches.

So women, choose your role models wisely. It is your responsibility, as voters and as women, to vote for and support people that can represent your ideas for our country and our gender with grace and brilliance. For better or for worse, the women that make their way to the limelight with your help will decide the future of women; let’s make it for better.

— Rachel Leavitt is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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