Women’s Empowerment…1848 to 2019

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote but just because we got the right to vote, did we really become empowered women at that time?  You make your own decision.

To begin with, we need to look back at history.

It took almost a century for women to be granted the right to vote in the United States, considered by many to be the first major act of empowering women.

In 1848 the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with the Seneca Falls Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony and other activists, raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. (source: history.com)

Throughout America’s early history, women were denied basic rights granted to men. For example, women couldn’t own property, had no legal claim to any money they might earn, and did not have the right to vote. Women were expected to focus on housework and motherhood, not politics.

However, not all women bought into the notion that they were second-class citizens but, it was not until the Seneca Falls Convention that the issue of women’s rights came to the forefront.  Did you know that over 300 people, mostly women but some men, like former African-American slave and activist Frederick Douglass, attended that convention?

And did you know that, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, they produced a
“Declaration of Sentiments”  document fashioned after the Declaration of Independence, which said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”?(source: history.com)  But, as we all know, the Declaration of Independence remains, “that all men are created equal…”

And did you know that in 1869, the Wyoming Territory granted the right to vote to all female residents age 21 and older, and when Wyoming became a state, women’s suffrage remained part of their state’s constitution? (source: history.com)  I didn’t.

So…in 1848, the movement for women’s rights was officially launched, but it took until 1872 for Victoria Claflin Woodhull, as the Equal Rights Party nominee, to become the first woman to run for President of the United States.

Image result for victoria claflin woodhull image

Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, were empowered women.  In 1870, backed by financier Cornelius Vanderbilt, they opened the first Wall Street brokerage firm. At the time, she was 31 and Tennessee was 24.  Woodhull was not only the first female to  own a brokerage firm on Wall Street; she was also the first woman to start a weekly newspaper, and an activist for women’s rights and labor reform.

But, it took another 144 years before Hillary Clinton, another empowered woman,  became the first women to win a major party nomination in 2016.

And today…we have not 1…not 2…but 5 women who have declared their intention to run for President of the United States…100 years after women were granted the right to vote. So, how do these empowered women tie into our Soroptimist mission?

Our bold, Big Goal to improve the lives of 500,000 women & girls by 2031 through our 2 signature programs, Live Your Dream, a cash grant for women heads of household enrolled in an undergraduate program or trade school, and Dream It, Be It, a mentoring program for teen girls who face obstacles to success by empowering them.

And why are we working so hard to these empower women & girls? Because, we feel that empowered women and girls can & will change the world for GOOD!

For more information on our Dream Programs or the work we do as Soroptimist International of Huntington Beach to empower women, please contact us at info@soroptimisthuntingtonbeach.org.


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