Women’s Equality Day

August 26th is Women’s Equality Day and marks the anniversary of national woman suffrage.  Across the seventy-two years between the first major women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, thousands of people participated in marches through cities like New York and Washington DC, wrote editorials and pamphlets, gave speeches all over the nation, lobbied political organizations, and held demonstrations with the goal of achieving voting rights for women.  The woman suffrage amendment was introduced for the first time to the United States Congress on January 10, 1878. The U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the amendment into law on August 26, 1920.

Fifty years later on August 26th, 1970, Betty Friedan and the National Organization of Women (NOW) organized a nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality.  Women across the political spectrum joined together to demand equal opportunities in employment, education, and twenty-four hour child-care centers.  This was the largest protest for gender equality in U.S. history.  The following year in 1971, Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY) introduced a bill designating August 26th of each year as Women’s Equality Day and the bill passed.  Part of the bill reads that Women’s Equality Day is a symbol of women’s continued fight for equal rights and that the United States commends and supports them.    (National Women’s History Museum )

So, on August 26, 2011 let us celebrate the achievements of women as they continue to strive for equality.  Here are some SDCL materials that may help in your reflection…

The Essential Feminist Reader  by Estelle B. Freedman, book editor

An anthology of feminist writing ranges from the origins of feminist ideas to the global feminism and Third Wave movements of the late 1990s in a collection that includes works by Betty Friedan, Virginia Woolf, and Emma Goldman.  The Essential Feminist Reader is the first anthology to present the full scope of feminist history. Prizewinning historian Estelle B. Freedman brings decades of teaching experience and scholarship to her selections, which span more than five centuries.  (Baker & Taylor)

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Bossypants  by  Tina Fey

Fey doesn’t give a blow-by-blow account of her life but reflects on the joys (ha, ha) of balancing work, marriage, and motherhood. Watch her agonize drolly over finding the perfect beauty routine and embodying Sarah Palin.   Of Fey’s Palin debut on SNL, which was viewed by ten million people, she explains, “You all watched a sketch about feminism and you didn’t even realize it because of all the jokes.” She accomplishes the same feat with her book. Highly recommended.     (Library Journal )       Also available in electronic version here.

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Through the Labyrinth : The Truth About How Women Become Leaders / Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli

Replace the idea of the glass ceiling with one of the challenging yet solvable labyrinth and examine women’s struggles to achieve powerful roles in the workplace.  Consider why women have been excluded from leadership. Each chapter addresses a specific question, including how far women have come as leaders,  discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices, resistance to female leadership, differences in leadership style, and whether organizations have traditions and practices that create obstacles.     ( Book News)

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Male and Female Roles by  Karen Miller, book editor

Essays debate the biological and cultural origins of sex roles, how stereotypes affect the ways individuals are perceived, and ways gender roles may change in the future.  Explores this issue by placing expert opinions in a unique pro/con format.   Both shrill and moderate voices will be represented.   Part of the Opposing Viewpoints Series.  (Baker & Taylor)

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Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement / Sally G. McMillen

A vibrant portrait of a major turning point in American women’s history, and in human history, this book is essential reading for anyone wishing to fully understand the origins of the woman’s rights movement.  The book covers 50 years of women’s activism, from 1840-1890, focusing on four extraordinary figures–Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony.   They asserted full equality with men, argued for greater legal rights, greater professional and education opportunities, and the right to vote–ideas considered wildly radical at the time.   (Oxford University Press)_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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