Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

There’s more to be desired for women’s equality

Kathleen McQuillan
Posted 3/5/20

The weeks roll by quickly! Once again, I’m faced with a list of topics screaming for my attention. The sun is shining and the temperature outside has risen to the mid-thirties. Shouldn’t …

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There’s more to be desired for women’s equality

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The weeks roll by quickly! Once again, I’m faced with a list of topics screaming for my attention. The sun is shining and the temperature outside has risen to the mid-thirties. Shouldn’t I be out walking the dog or doing some other delightful activity instead of holing up in my office cubby? No, a deadline calls… Let me take another look here.
Topping my list, the coronavirus. OMG! What can I say about that? At this point, we’re keeping our fingers crossed, but only after having washed them for at least 40 seconds, to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Happy Birthday” sung twice, whichever works for you, long enough to wash the “bugs” away.
And then there’s the story about our state senator canceling his fundraising event at Fortune Bay Casino, at the behest of the local trade unions, because of objections to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe stating publicly its position on locating a copper-nickel mining operation too close to the BWCAW! And the mayor of Ely then calling a boycott of all Native-owned enterprises! What happened to respecting treaty agreements between sovereign nations, not to mention “freedom of speech?” What the heck? Geez! The list continues…
Next? How can I overlook the state party caucuses on Feb. 25 and the Super Tuesday Presidential Primary? While the Republican Party is pretty much locked down by their infamous incumbent, Democrats have to cope with so many choices that they’re in danger of falling overboard from the campaign rhetoric. And this is only the beginning! We have many more months of mud-slinging, fear-mongering, and doomsday reports to come, from both parties. What’s more, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I read about foreign interference in our election, sophisticated tactics to spread misinformation to confuse us, and underhanded efforts to suppress voter turnout. And, those “political war-chests” that are now almost as big as the actual military budget! When tallied, come November, we may find they’ve well surpassed it. My big question is this: Post-election, will we feel more or less secure? Will we sigh with relief or feel a surge of panic?
Excuse me for a second while I get my bearings.
Well, I think I’ll just go back to a photograph I found last week of President Jimmy Carter leaning over his desk, pen in hand, a serene smile upon his face, formally signing the document first proclaiming Women’s History Week, which was later expanded to include the whole of March as “Women’s History Month,” a time to highlight stories of remarkable women who made valuable contributions to American society. In Carter’s words:
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions were unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” (Gosh, I loved that man!)
The movement for women’s suffrage began well before the Civil War. After parading, picketing, imprisonment and hunger striking, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, finally passed into law in August 1920. Sixty-four years later, in 1984, it achieved full ratification when Tennessee became the 50th state in the union to add women’s suffrage to it’s state constitution.
One hundred years later the struggle for women’s rights is still not over. Let’s look at the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would finally make any act of gender-based discrimination unlawful. Although the wording is simple, its intent is clear. Once passed, females would finally have achieved full and equal protection under the law.
The ERA was first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 1923 but didn’t pass in the Senate until 1972. And after 48 years of dogged determination to garner support for ratification from 3/4 of our 50 states, it wasn’t until this January that Virginia became the 38th signatory to the ERA. But the ERA faces yet another roadblock to passage. A statutory deadline that expired in the 1980s is under debate. Having passed a waiver of the deadline in the House just last week, it now must go before the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to deny a floor vote for its passage. If this current opportunity for ratification is lost, the process must begin all over again, delaying full citizenship to half our nation’s population for perhaps another one hundred years.
The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security Index conducts a biennial survey that examines the status of women around the globe. In 2019, 167 countries participated. The study uses 11 indicators grouped in three categories: inclusion, security and justice. I was disappointed to learn that the U.S. ranked 19th. Do you think our failure to include equal protection to women and girls in our nation’s Constitution could have affected our rating in the inclusion category?
The index is definitely worth checking out. It contains information that is both encouraging and disheartening about the progress of women, and far more interesting than much of the news we’re getting elsewhere. Its content is credibly sourced. And there’s something about matter-of-fact graphs and charts that help cut to the chase, allowing clear facts, logic and common sense to see a way forward.
Although women have been voting since 1920, and more of us ran for office and were elected into the U.S. House and Senate in 2018 than at any other time in our history, we still hold only 23.6 percent of those 535 seats.
Yes, it’s true, “we’ve come a long way…” maybe, but we have a long, long way to go. 2020 presents the opportunity to break even more records, making not just history but her-story!

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Scott Atwater

Here's a fun fact: More women than men voted in the recent Super Tuesday Democratic Primary. The results.....Two old white guys remain, along with one woman, Tulsi Gabbard. Who thinks that the DNC will allow her to participate in the next scheduled debate, raise your hand.

Saturday, March 7