Voting Ballot Box

Women’s History and the Right to Vote

March 19, 2024
Inside HR
Diversity and Inclusion
Read time: 2 mins

March marks Women’s History Month, first celebrated in Santa Rosa, California, in 1978 as Women’s History Week. In 1980, a consortium of historians and women’s groups lobbied for national recognition. That year, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 2-8 as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month.

It is hard to believe that at that point in time, women had only gained the right to vote a short 60 years earlier, following over a 100-year campaign for equal rights causes, including the right to vote for women and people of color. It wasn’t until August 18, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, endowing more than 8 million women across the United States with the right to vote in elections for the first time.

The importance of remembering the history that brought women to fight for their rights for 100 years cannot be understated. The right to vote was just a small portion of the freedoms the suffrage movement aimed to bring for women, including the right to higher education, equal wages, and the abolition of “coverture,” the legal doctrine that a married woman’s possessions, wages, body, and children were the property of her husband. In the ensuing years, generations of women have continued to benefit from the work these predecessors began. While the work continues, the right to vote is a key factor in changing the landscape related to women’s unique concerns.

In this 2024 election year, we can be assured that we will see a continual increase in ads from candidates, political action committees, and other special interest groups. If you, like me, find yourself with a strong desire to “go ostrich” and bury your head in the sand to get away from all the noise, please remember those suffragettes—do your homework, find your candidates, and vote.