Tag Archives: Alice Paul

Women’s History Roundup: Create a Movement

Throughout history, men with leadership proclivities have tended to start businesses to create wealth or/and to go into politics. They take the direct path to power for its own sake. Women, on the other hand, tend to start social movements. Susan B. Anthony and women’s rights, Jane Addams and the Settlement House movement, Margaret Sanger and birth control, Candy Lightner and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and today’s Emily May and Hollaback just to name a few.

The 9 Ways Women’s History Month posts this week are all examples of women starting social movements large and small:
Burning Women: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Illuminates Wisconsin Union-Busting
Alice Paul’s Equal Right Amendment Back at the Plow
Violence Against Women: Not in My Backyard – Er, Subway Car
Inspiration from Sin City

What are some other examples of woman-initiated social movements that inspire you?
What new social movement would you start if you could?

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Alice Paul’s Equal Rights Amendment Back at the Plow

“I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” – Alice Paul, suffragist and author of the still-not-ratified Equal Rights Amendment

Yesterday, March 22, was World Water Day. That got a modicum of press. But did you know it was also the 39th anniversary of the date on which Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed out of the U. S. Congress and was sent to the states to be ratified? Probably not. And yet, if there is a resource women need as much as clean water, it must be the guarantee of equality under the law.

The original ERA, introduced in Congress in 1923, was written by Alice Paul, a women’s rights activist instrumental in the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote. Paul also started the National Women’s Party, believing that without a political organization’s clout, women’s concerns would never be taken seriously by politicians. Paul was also one of the few women’s suffrage leaders who realized that getting the right to vote was necessary but not sufficient to enable women to be equal partners in society. She argued that those who had fought for suffrage should then shift their work to getting laws passed that would continue to expand women’s rights.

“When you put your hand to the plow,” Paul said, “you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”

How right she was! And we aren’t there yet.

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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt