When I married 60 years ago, I could vote that November, thanks to the efforts of thousands of women who fought hard for passage of the 19th Amendment.
But even though Susan B. Anthony’s lifelong efforts for voting rights for women succeeded on Aug. 18, 1920, true equality was still wanting. Want ads separately listed female employment and male employment. Women could not get bank loans. Employment “glass ceilings” existed in many professions. And I was told in high school that I could not take drafting because “only boys take drafting,” nor participate in any sport other than girls basketball, cheerleading and synchronized swimming.
Then in 1963, a second round of equal rights struggles began.
In 1964, under Lyndon Johnson, discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex or ethnic origin was prohibited. In 1972 Title IX forced schools and colleges that accepted federal funds to offer the same opportunities to girls as they did to boys. In 1973, Roe v. Wade meant women had the right to control their own bodies.
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When I entered the work world in the 1970s, my salary was the same as the male teacher in the next classroom. Instead of being limited to three sports as I had been, the girls I taught could play any sport and earn college scholarships. Instead of being told in college, as I was, to “have a career in case you become divorced or widowed,” young women today can choose careers of their choice.
So, listen up, young women. The choices you face at the ballot box in November can either further the rights won in the past, put those rights on hold or, quite possibly, diminish them. Know your history. Your mothers and grandmothers fought hard to obtain them.
Carole A. Briggs, Brookville