100 Years After Women’s Suffrage, the Fight to Give Everyone a Voice Continues
On August 26, people across the U.S. will celebrate Women’s Equality Day. It’s a time to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and honor the women who fought for that right. But as 2020 brings the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the U.S., it is critical to recognize the historical event did not bring equal voting access to all women.
Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Black women and other women of color continued to face barriers to voting. Today, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color still encounter hurdles to casting a ballot and being heard in our community.
In Southeast Louisiana, there is a group of women stepping up to address these challenges. They are part of Women United, a global group of women who work with United Way of Southeast Louisiana to increase equity in health, schools, jobs, and other vital aspects of life.
Here are a few ways you can join them in supporting gender equity and empowering all women.
1. Show up at the polls
From your local school board to the U.S. Senate, it’s important to vote in every election. Go out and vote. Bring your daughters to witness you vote. Encourage other women to vote. Find ways to help people in traditionally marginalized communities vote. YOU can determine our future by understanding the issues that impact women in your community and voting for the issues that help women improve their health, education, and financial stability. Register to vote here.
2. Raise your voice
After casting your vote, tell elected officials your priorities! Public policy changes are a key way we can
create more equitable access to resources and opportunities. United Way SELA and Women United are dedicated to advocating for policies that elevate women, including pay equity, paid family leave, affordable early childhood education, and protections for domestic violence and breast cancer survivors (read up on our historic progress here). Join us in leading the charge on these issues and others by signing up for Action Alerts from our Public Policy team.
3. Empower women’s economic stability.
Women are more live in poverty or struggle to make ends meet than men. The latest ALICE Report, which measures financial hardship in our community, shows 84% of single-female-headed households with children in Southeast Louisiana can’t afford the basics. For Black women, the pay gap between their earnings and those of white men and women is substantial. Black women earn $0.61 for every $1 earned by white men and $0.83 for every $1 white women earn. You can support financial empowerment for women by giving to the J. Wayne Leonard Prosperity Center, a hub where low-income households can receive financial coaching, job training, credit management, and more. Over 800 women have improved their lives through services from the Prosperity Center.
4. Give to good causes
Women hold the power of the purse, especially when it comes to giving. As a woman’s income rises, she is more likely to give to causes she cares about than a male counterpart. And women are often greater champions for their charitable causes. By advocating for charitable giving by her family, women ensure that billions of dollars return to their local communities to create lasting change. Learn more about the impact a gift to United Way SELA creates here.
5. Unite with other women to transform our community
Women United is a growing group of 150 women dedicated to supporting the unique health and human service needs of women and children in Southeast Louisiana. By networking, sharing ideas, pooling their resources, and advocating for critical causes, members have invested more than $3 million in our community since 2002. Learn how you can join them here.
We cannot rest until we eliminate the persistent disparities caused by structural racism and sexism.
COVID-19 has exposed the racial and gender inequities in our society. Recent studies show that the pandemic is having a disproportionately negative impact on women – particularly women of color - in multiple ways. Women are losing jobs in more significant numbers than men; are doing most of the housework, child-rearing, and homeschooling even when both parents are home; are experiencing an increase in domestic violence; and are underrepresented in government and leadership positions. According to the World Economic Forum, COVID-19 is the biggest setback to gender equality in a decade.
Yet – there is hope. Throughout history, women have fought and won against incomprehensible injustices. We believe that together, United through advocacy, giving, and volunteerism, we can once again disrupt society’s course and create equitable communities where ALL can thrive.
Dr. Toya Barnes-Teamer
Women United of Southeast Louisiana
Executive Vice President & COO
United Way of Southeast Louisiana