With International Women’s Day around the corner and in accordance with the National Women’s History Alliance’s 2021 theme for Women’s History Month: “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced,” the Foghorn staff took a moment to reflect on the women’s suffrage movement and its lasting impact on our electoral process and wider culture.
Voting is one of the most direct ways we interact with the politics of our country, so when women in the early 20th century fought for women’s suffrage, they were fighting not only for gender equality, but also for the right to participate in our democracy, thereby governing themselves. This past election season was significant because 2020 marked 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, although, it’s important to note that this didn’t immediately guarantee the right to vote for all women.
Black women have carried more than their own weight in recent elections, but many were still barred from voting when the 19th Amendment was passed. The current strength of the non-white woman’s vote demonstrates why we need more female representation in office and why we’re getting it, too. Welcoming Kamala Harris into the White House is a huge step forward towards representation in government for all women, but especially Black and Asian women, and it would not have been done without all of the women who exercised their constitutional right this election.
Since women were historically left out of political positions of power in the United States, they have often found success circumventing traditional political routes in order to enact change. This tradition is continued today, despite increased representation in politics. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded by and continues to be largely led by Black women, and women dominate critical people-facing industries such as nonprofit work, healthcare, and education.
But looking forward, it’s critical that we keep pushing to see more women in every field and that we continue to fight for their equality in every aspect of society. Celebrating Women’s History Month is a reminder that women faced, and continue to face, a patriarchal society in order to become the “firsts” in their position. Those women did it for others — and reflecting on their accomplishments is a reminder that whatever progress we are making, we owe it, at least in part, to them.
We at the Foghorn are grateful to have had female role models growing up who taught us to value women, their dreams, and their power. Every little girl should know that it’s OK to dream big, that she is powerful, and that she can achieve her goals because of the trailblazers who came before her.
Similar to Black History Month, Women’s History Month is not something that should be celebrated in isolation. We should take the time to honor and celebrate influential women in our lives and throughout history every day of the year. And yet, March gives us time to slow down and grant special recognition to those that may not have made the history books.
It’s important that we continue to see more women in politics. Not just for our immediate political moment, but also for the future. We should honor the women who made all of this possible, while ultimately seeing that this should only be the beginning. We must let this inform our future, because the future is female after all.