Paving the Way: How the Fight for the Right to Vote Led Directly to the ERA
Imagine you live in a country where you do not have rights. The Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-.” However, these “rights” in the Declaration of Independence did not apply to half of the population For decades women could not vote, own property, or earn their own income. It took nearly eighty years for women to earn the right to vote in 1920 through Nineteenth Amendment and the movement known as Women’s Suffrage (MindEdge, 2016). That early 20th-century activism paved the way for later feminist progress. The Women’s Suffrage Movement directly led to the advancement of women’s rights on a larger scale that went far beyond the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. In fact, Alice Paul was largely responsible for the advancement of the ERA. Although we have come a long way since the 1920’s, there is still much work to be done to advance true equity for women’s rights. This work includes continuing to fight for the ratification of the ERA, codifying legal protection for women’s healthcare, closing the gender pay gap, and affording parents the parental leave they need and deserve, among others.
The fight for women’s equality began in the late !800’s when women began to demand the right to vote. What followed was a long, bloody, international fight for the right to vote that became known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Women’s Suffrage took hold in both Great Britain and the United States. While British Sufferagists were decidedly more militant, American women in the movement took a different approach, organizing their own women’s groups and protesting, getting the attention of politicians, and working with wealthy women to secure financial support for the cause (Johnson, 2021).
During the movement, women were unjustly arrested and jailed for protesting for their rights. During imprisonment, many activists responded by going on hunger strikes. These were often followed by periods of prisoners being released and then “fattened up” by supporters in preparations for another protest (Gunderson, 2019).
In 1920, women finally gained the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment…