August 26 2014

Celebrating Women's Equality Day

Hadley Heath

In an era where each political party covets women's votes, it's hard to imagine a time when women didn't have the right to vote. Today, August 26, is Women's Equality Day. It's a day to commemorate the passage of women's suffrage.

Although the United States ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 (yes - fewer than 100 years ago!), individual states began allowing women to vote as early as 1869 in Wyoming and Utah. Today women comprise more than half of voters in the United States, and their participation at all levels of government (both as voters and public officials) has grown tremendously.  

Often the Left uses holidays and commemorations like today to focus on areas where women have not achieved parity with men. But the name of the day is "Women's Equality Day," not "Women's Parity Day."  Today should be a celebration of how far women in America have come in achieving equal rights.

Once, women did not have equal voting rights or property rights, and they faced major hurdles in the pursuit of an education or a profession. Today, women make up the majority of students in bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. programs. Our culture has come a long way in accepting women in the workplace, and women have reached new heights in nearly every profession or pursuit imaginable.  In the White House statement about today's commemoration, the President recognized these important gains, but still pandered pondered on the fact that women face "barriers:"

But despite these gains, the dreams of too many mothers and daughters continue to be deferred and denied.  There is still more work to do and more doors of opportunity to open.  When women receive unequal pay or are denied family leave and workplace flexibility, it makes life harder for our mothers and daughters, and it hurts the loved ones they support.  These outdated policies and old ways of thinking deprive us of our Nation's full talents and potential.

This is tricky. Of course we may all agree with the President that some women face unique challenges. In an economy that is still struggling to recover, many of the hardships women face are in finding good-paying jobs and making ends meet. These are hardships that many men face as well. And as the President mentioned, workplace flexibility is very beneficial to women. 

But of course the President and his political allies want to continue to propose legislation that overregulates the workplace and creates new inflexible and expensive entitlement programs in the name of protecting women. These misguided ideas would backfire on the women they are intended to help.

Today should be a day where women of all political stripes come together to celebrate 94 years of voting rights protected by the 19th Amendment.  We can recognize that not all women have achieved the American Dream, and that greater economic freedom and economic growth would allow them the chance to do so. But we should also recognize that America is not an inherently sexist or anti-woman culture, and that we have come a long way in achieving equal rights and opportunities for women.

 

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