Today is Women’s Equality Day number 94. As I am sure all our readers are aware it was this day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was officially certified. Since 1971 when the iconic New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug first introduced legislation, this date has been proclaimed Women’s Equality Day.
By coincidence today is also Election Day in the State of Florida. On the ballot today throughout the state countless races will be decided by the electoral participation of females, and once again many women will be elected to office. However, while the majority of citizens and voters in this state are women, most elected officials continue to be males, some of which have an outlook legislatively that could be construed as either sexist or chauvinistic.
In some parts of the state the stakes could not be higher for women. Last we endorsed the Earned Sick Time initiative in Orange County and ran this guest editorial by Stephanie Porta regarding the issue. As Stephanie wrote on the issue, it specifically relates to women in the following way:
The lack of Earned Sick Time hits working women especially hard – because it is most often women who have the responsibility for caring for a sick child or other family member. Last year, a PPP Poll found that 80% of likely Florida voters support Earned Sick Time. Of women who were surveyed, 86% support Earned Sick Time.
The battle for women’s equality is fought on a daily basis. Today, as you cast a ballot for the candidates of your choice, or work the polls for a campaign remember the sacrifices that have been made for equality but keep in mind that we are nowhere near where we need to be as a state and a society on these issues.
Women still make just $0.77 for each dollar men make in the workplace. In the 21st Century, in a supposedly modern society how can this be? Much of it comes down to the types of people elected to office. In the 1970’s we were close to passing the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. Here in Florida it passed the State House multiple times only to be blocked in the conservative Senate where the powerful Dempsey Barron (D-Panama City) held sway. Before his passing in 2001, Senator Barron indicated he regretted the critical role he played in the blocking of ERA ratification in Florida. Thanks largely to his efforts, Florida never ratified the Amendment and the push for it nationally waned in the early 1980s.
But today, the ERA and other equal pay or equal rights initiatives are on the back-burner. As politicians tout equality, many do little in the legislative arena to actually bring it about. Today’s ballot question on Earned Sick Time in Orange County is a great opportunity for women who were empowered by the 19th Amendment make the their voices heard without the interference of politicians and the class of political elites.
Today also presents an opportunity given the historic anniversary to elect more women to office. Florida has never had a female Governor, but today both parties have women on the primary ballot. Progressive women are running for offices up and down the ballot from City Commission to State House to School Board to State Senate.
On this historic day, remember the sacrifices made for them to be able to run for office and keep in mind that the struggle continues and is far from complete.