March 3, 1913, one day before the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, was the dawn of a new movement for women. On that day, more than 5,000 women descended on Washington D.C. to fight for legal rights for all women. Following activism spurred by this demonstration, it was seven years later, in 1920, that Congress passed the 19th Amendment, extending voting rights to women, nationwide.
xxIn 1913, my maternal great-grandmother was a little girl with choices to make in growing up to become a woman. By 1920, she was 16 years old, and likely saw opportunities unheard of in generations before her. She went on to become active in any community she lived, and then influenced my childhood.
Managing a transitional home for unwed pregnant women, writing an advice column for women, and owning a business were among her contributions. She instilled self-confidence, perseverance, and rightful thinking in me, thanks to the women who influenced her.
In 1970, my great-grandmother was in her sixties and a successful entrepreneur, when one of the more noteworthy rallies took place. It was the Women’s Strike for Equality, where an estimated 50,000 women marched in New York.
January 20, 2018 saw another large turn-out in fighting for women’s rights. My great-grandmother has since passed away. Her birthday had been on January 20.
Many cities nationwide participated in marches yesterday. In Cincinnati, more than 10,000 people marched. Different from the marches of 100 years ago, men too are coming out in droves to support this fight.
Yesterday, those who marched and those who supported marches did so for a variety of reasons.
Some are fed up with sexual misconduct. Some were hoping to create an enduring political movement that will elect more women to government office, and some want to encourage voter participation. No matter what our reasons are, it all means one thing: we demand equality.
If my great-grandmother were still alive, she’d be outspokenly angered by our current American politics, and so very proud of those who are fighting to make a change, to ensure women are treated respectfully, fairly, and with equality.
With a belated wish, Happy Birthday to Nana, my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (Conner) Schmidt, nee Gosney. -Elle-