Today is Women’s Equality Day, the 96th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th amendment into the Constitution, outlawing voter discrimination on the basis of sex.
On this day in 1920, the train carrying the 38th state signature needed to ratify the amendment arrived in Washington DC from Tennessee. After 72 years of fighting to include those two short lines in the Constitution, the women of the suffragist movement would finally have their dream realized, despite the fact that most of the women at the original Seneca Falls Convention had long since died.
Of course, the 19th amendment did not guarantee all women in the United States the right to vote, as discriminatory poll taxes and literacy tests, coupled with the terroristic intimidation by white supremacists would restrict black women from equal access to voting for another 44 years.
But today, women hold the voting capability to decide national elections, especially women of color, who are the fastest growing voter block in the country. 70.1 percent of black women voters turned out to vote in the 2012 election, compared to only 65.6 percent of white women.
In her 1984 book Why and How Women Will Elect the Next President, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, pointed out that women vote differently than men because of their respective life experiences. This phenomenon was termed ‘the gender gap.’
Far from voting the same as their husbands, women frequently take more seriously into consideration a number of issues including care giving responsibilities, the pay gap, and domestic violence and sexual assault.
In the upcoming November elections, there is still so much on the line for women in the United States, from reproductive healthcare access to education to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. In 2012, women decided the election, with 10 million more women turning out to vote than men. We must do it again this November.