Wednesday marks 100 years since votes for women officially became part of the US constitution (its basic principles and laws) on 26 August 1920. The breakthrough was the result of decades of campaigning.
For over 70 years, activists had been campaigning all over the world for women’s right to vote in elections. In the UK, suffragettes heckled politicians, smashed windows, and went on hunger strike for the right to equality with men.
New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1893. Half a century later, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserted “the equal rights of men and women”. Today, women are able to vote in every democracy in the world.
Women’s Equality Day is marked every August as an opportunity to celebrate the women, such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Rosa Parks, who fought for their rights. It is also a chance to remember all the women who achieved great things once given opportunities to succeed.
But is is not just a celebration. Women continue to face discrimination, with one in three worldwide experiencing physical or sexual violence. Meanwhile, recent movements like #MeToo remind us that inequality still exists, with women at every level of society experiencing violence, sexism, and unequal pay on a day-to-day basis.
How will you be celebrating women’s rights this Wednesday?
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- Using the internet, make a timeline of women’s suffrage in countries around the world. Are there any events you find surprising?
- Write down a list of stereotypes usually associated with women. Divide them into two columns: positive and negative. Do the same for men. What do you notice?
- Choose a woman from history who inspires you. Write a short biography outlining her achievements and explain why you admire her.