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.
Election Day should be a time when we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of full equality for women and girls around the world.
On Election Day in 1920, American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. Today, American women are making a difference. Women's accomplishments in education, business, science, art, medicine, 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 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 take 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, make sure you're registered to vote. It's easy -- you can even do it online at election.dos.state.fl.us/voter-registration/voter-reg.shtml.
Be an informed voter and make a difference. Educate yourself about the candidates and learn more about issues that are important to you. Make your voice heard by writing letters to the editor 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 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.
,Submitted by Dr. Mona Jain of Bradenton, former chair of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. The commission is a nonpartisan body, statutorily charged with studying the changing and developing roles of women in American history. Website: www.fcsw.net