By Mia Garza McCord, President. August 18, 2020
Today marks a very important day in history, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. 100 years ago today, American women were guaranteed the right to vote. As we celebrate the centennial of this momentous occasion, we should take a moment to reflect on how far we have come as a gender and the obstacles still ahead.
As many of you have heard before, I was raised by strong women. As far back as I can remember, the women in my family have been determined, hard-working, empowering, and as stubborn as the day is long. My great-grandmothers were familial matriarchs, honored and respected by those both outside and within the family constructs.
But, perhaps the women who made the biggest imprint on my life were my grandmothers. They were strong, both physically and emotionally. Whether they were caring for their large families, working outside the home to help provide supplemental income, or selflessly giving of their time to the communities they lived in, my grandmothers were always on the go, and they never complained about it. I cannot recall either bemoaning how tired they were at the end of an 18-hour day that often included manual labor at the local grocery store or out on a ranch.
As much as these women were strong, they were also two of the most nurturing and kind women I have ever met. One of my fondest memories of my Grandma Estela is of her watering the wildflowers, that she refused to let anyone mow down, early on Summer mornings. I often woke to the sounds of her beautiful voice humming Catholic hymns just outside my open window. Her gentle and constant humming was a look into her kind heart- always willing to help, volunteer, take care of anyone who was sick or in need.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with the centennial of women’s suffrage. These women were the first generation of women to be brought up in a world where a woman’s voice at the ballot box was equal to that of their male counterparts. That said, they certainly did not grow up in a world of equality. My grandmothers were trailblazers. They both financially contributed to the household and raised a family in a time where a woman’s value was determined by her ability to raise children and keep a clean home.
My grandmothers set the tone for generations of women who have and will come after. Just as my grandmother worked and raised a family, so did my mother, and so do I. And, I feel it is important to instill in my daughter that she can be both a good mother and contribute outside of the home. Even more important, I teach my son that women can do anything he can do. They can be doctors, lawyers, accountants, lawmakers, homemakers, mothers, and whatever else they choose, and it is their right to do so.
However, not everyone shares this view, even within our own gender and generation. Not that long ago, I sat in a room of strangers where one accomplished, single, childless young lady casually surmised that the breakdown of the traditional family was caused by women entering the workforce and no longer focusing on raising their children as they were meant to do. While left speechless (I am after all, a working mother) the truth is, this sentiment exists. While women earned the right to vote 100 years ago, we still have to defend our worth in society.
Women have accomplished a lot in the 100 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment. Generations of women have broken glass ceilings, led national causes, and created real change in our country and in society. We bring a new perspective to policy issues and innovative ideas into board rooms. We are strong and nurturing, resolute and kind, tenacious yet generous. We love our communities, our families, and our country. We also have a long way to go.
On this very momentous day, I stand with fellow women across the country and recognize the tidal wave of change started by Susan B. Anthony in the mid to late 1800s, and finally brought to fruition by a willful, Quaker woman from New Jersey, Alice Paul, 100 years ago. And, while I stand proud, I also urge women to continue the fight for those who will come after us.
Our daughters will benefit from the generations of women who came before them. If my generation will continue shattering glass ceilings, theirs will not bat an eye at the idea of women running Fortune 500 companies, leading our great country, and being at the forefront of some of the most innovative technological and medical discoveries of our time. My hope is that they will be able to choose their paths without fear of judgement, resentment, or discrimination.
So, ladies, let’s show up. Go vote. Stay in the arena because we have a legacy to continue! Happy Centennial 19th Amendment! May what was started 100 years ago continue for centuries to come!
A Few Statistics to Consider
Women make up 58.4 percent of the total U.S. labor force.[i] In 2017, 41 percent of mothers were either the sole breadwinners or primary breadwinners for their households. 63.7 percent of married mothers are part of the workforce, while 73.2 percent of single mothers are employed.[ii] As of 2018, 54.3 percent of students enrolled in an undergraduate program in Texas were women, and another 56.7 percent of students enrolled in graduate or professional degrees were women.[iii] Finally, 68.5 percent of women in the United States are registered to vote with 55 percent showing up to the polls during the 2018 mid-term elections.[iv]