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National Women’s Equality Day

In history class, there was always one topic that stood out to me, as I’m sure it stood out to many others. No matter what time period was being discussed, women always had to fight for equality. From the first women’s rights convention in 1848, to flappers breaking social norms for women and dancing their way into history in the 1920’s, to feminists protesting in the streets demanding equality in the workplace 1960’s, it was obvious that many women in America were sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens.

I always wondered why women were treated so differently. I would often think about how, if I were born in a different era, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have today. I wouldn’t be able to do simple things such as wearing what I want, voting, or even having a job outside the home when I am older. These are just few of the things that many people take for granted.

The United States Congress declared August 26, 1971 National Women’s Equality Day. This date was chosen to remember passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Women’s Right to Vote. The amendment, ratified in August 1920, culminated the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and was finally achieved 41 years after it was first introduced to Congress in 1878.

August 26 is a day to applaud everything American women have struggled to accomplish. It’s a day when everyone can say that they are a feminist – no matter what gender you are – because everyone should celebrate equality. Equality is the ability to do what you want without being stopped based on who you are.

What’s been accomplished so far affects every woman’s everyday life, and these achievements especially affect my own life. Ever since I was young, I have classified myself as a feminist. Learning about the people who fought so hard to change America really convinced me that anything is possible. In school, if there was any type of free writing I would often find myself writing about these people and the amazing things they accomplished.

I would often get into fights with my brothers and other boys growing up where we would argue about whether boys or girls were better or stronger or whatever came into our minds. We never gave a reason as to why one of us was better, but no one wanted to back down or be seen as weaker. Sometimes, even today, my brothers and I have an arm wrestling match just for fun.

Now these contests don’t seem as important because my brothers and I realized that they mean nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to back down from an arm wrestling match if the opportunity presents itself, but winning them doesn’t mean that girls are better than boys, or that there is really any superior gender. My brothers and I joke about who will become more successful when we get older; who will have a better car or a bigger house. I doubt that any of us will become glamorously wealthy or have extremely luxurious lifestyles. But, because of this day, I know that I can live my dream of being a lawyer, and I won’t be stopped because I’m a girl.

America’s made great progress in women’s rights and hopefully that will continue. Neither boys nor girls are better than the other. I’m thankful that I can participate in the same sports teams as boys, I can vote when I turn 18, and I’m free to choose whatever career I’m interested in when I’m old enough. Sadly, there are areas of the world where this isn’t true and I hope that changes in the future.

Even though I haven’t been at A Woman’s Place (AWP) very long, I’ve found many strong female leaders here. From the moment I walked in, I noticed that the women who work here don’t back down from any challenge and do everything with a purpose. I think that is what drew me to AWP in the first place. It’s really inspiring to see these women taking opportunities and really helping out the community. They have qualities that I admire, women who are role models. They are honest, have a positive attitude. They are not afraid to state their opinion, even if it’s not a popular one, and they defend the causes they believe in. I am motivated to help out and to try to help others more often. I can’t wait to become more involved in the organization and experience more of this amazing, encouraging leadership.

Lauren Hughes
AWP Volunteer

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