By: Georgia Gilbert, East Syracuse/Minoa Area Service Unit Manager
In 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York the first Women’s Rights convention was held. The women who organized this convention created a document called the Declaration of Sentiments. Basically, it was a reworking of the Declaration of Independence with an important twist. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men AND WOMEN are created equal…”
We may look at these sentiments today and think that women’s rights are a no-brainer. But in 1848 it caused great controversy. Women were not afforded the same rights as men. They were perceived as property and had no voice. Frederick Douglass who attended the convention is quoted as saying the Declaration was, “grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”
The part we are most familiar with is the suffrage movement – a women’s right to vote. Many of the women behind the women’s rights movements in the beginning, women such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, made it their life’s work to win rights for woman. Their LIFE’S WORK. Equality came in bits and pieces and many of these early suffragettes did not live to see women earn the right to vote. But they never gave up and their spirit inspired other women to take up the mantle to continue the cause. Smart, learned women who also would not accept less such as Alice Paul and Carrie Catt Chapman. The 19th amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified in 1920, 72 years after the first women’s right’s convention. It took dedicated, tenacious, people who believed that women were worth no more and no less than total equality. Even though the major hurdle of gaining the vote has been crossed there is still a fight for equality today.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was written in part by Alice Paul and which she fought for until her death was never ratified and today women STILL fight for equal rights. Seems hard to believe, right? 94 years after we gained the right to vote we still have to fight for our rights. It makes no sense in this day and age that woman make 77 cents to the dollar a man makes nationally. New York has it better at 84 cents to the dollar. But having it “better” is not enough. We should NEVER accept less. Gender should never come into play when setting a wage. Experience, education, yes, but gender? Never. Women didn’t have a voice in 1848 but in 2014 they do. Every woman should keep in mind those women who fought long and hard so that we could go to a polling place to cast our vote without fear of being arrested.
Honor those courageous women who thought that women were worth more by voting on Election Day. Honor yourself, your daughters, your sisters, your mothers by demanding no less than equality.