Remembering the historic fight for women’s voting rights 100 years later

By: 
Angie Honse Dunlap
South County St. Louis

To the Editor:

July 3, 1919, was the day Missouri ratified the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women equal voting rights across the nation. Unfortunately, 100 years later, this date went unrecognized by most people across the state. Yet, it is so significant to the life of every woman in Missouri.

A hundred years ago, women desired then what women desire now — healthy families, a safe home, autonomy, and fairness (equal opportunities at home, at work, in pay, and in education.) Before women could vote we were subject to laws in which we had no voice, and issues important to women were often not addressed. But today a woman’s vote can effectively influence government policy. With this voting voice, women have been a force for change.

Women in our past worked fiercely for the franchise. Women marched and protested. They were pelted with objects. The suffragists endured hostile mobs, armed threats, imprisonment, and forced feedings. Suffragists’ images were hung in effigy and dragged through the streets. Today’s women owe them our gratitude. The women who came before us, including our great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers, enabled the reality we enjoy today.

For enough states to agree that women deserved equality in voting took another year — August 1920. Let us use this coming year to celebrate how far women and our nation have come in citizen’s voting rights over the last century. But remember too that protecting those voting rights is essential for our government to represent the whole people.