Mona Jain: Celebrate Women's Equality Day today

CommentaryAugust 26, 2009 

August often passes unnoticed by most because it is the month without holidays. But there is a lot to celebrate today, Aug. 26. It’s Women’s Equality Day — the anniversary of the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

Passage of this amendment was the culmination of a movement that took decades to realize. Women’s Equality Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress women have made this century.

Since the earliest days of our democracy, Americans have taken great pride in our pursuit of equality. It is a right for which many have bravely struggled and the ideal that challenges us even today to build a better democracy and forge a future in which our children will know no boundaries. Each year on Women’s Equality Day, we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of full equality for women and girls around the world.

Today, American women are making a difference in their communities and workplaces. Women’s accomplishments in education, business, science, art, medicine, athletics and every other field have made our state and nation better and stronger.

The courage and determination of American women are demonstrated in the personnel serving in our Armed Forces. Women across America are also helping to secure our country by serving as police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and first responders.

However, we must do more than remember. We must build on the legacy of countless women, whether celebrated or anonymous, who have contributed so much to the strength and spirit of our country. The Florida Commission on the Status of Women encourages everyone to celebrate Women’s Equality Day by taking advantage of the rights that the suffragists fought for — register and VOTE!

This is true for men and women. If you’re 18 or older, or will be by the time of the next election in November, make sure you’re registered to vote. It’s easy — you can even do it online at http://election.dos.state.fl.us/reg tovote/regform.shtml.

Even if you’re under 18, you can still celebrate Women’s Equality Day and make a difference! Educate yourself about the candidates and learn more about the issues that are important to you. Talk to your parents, your older friends and your sisters and brothers about why it’s so important to vote.

Make your voice heard by writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper or volunteering with an organization working on issues you care about.

If you are near a women’s history museum, such as the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, located in the Rotunda of the Florida Capitol, take some time to visit and learn about the great women who shaped Florida’s history.

Finally, express your appreciation to the women who are your teachers, principals, coaches, mentors, mothers and aunts. Chances are they worked hard to get where they are, and they’re helping the next generation of women achieve their goals.

Mona Jain, Ph.D., M.D., chairs the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, based in Tallahassee.

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