Growing more frustrated with the Legislature’s failure to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment, in July, 1971 Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan and others, organized a conference in Washington, DC. Over 320 women attended from twenty-six states and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), a national, bipartisan, grassroots membership organization was born. In 1971, women represented just 1 percent of elected officials nationwide.
The first “Women’s Equality Day,” initiated by Representative Bella Abzug, was established by a Joint Resolution of Congress and is reaffirmed annually by Presidential Proclamation to commemorate granting women the right to vote. In commemorating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, we honor the Suffragettes who fought so long and endured many sacrifices to bring equality to women. Never let us forget the battle won as we are still fighting for true equality as we continue the push for an Equal Rights Amendment.
As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, I want to reflect on some of the progress we’ve made, but the tough work we still have before us.
For the last 45 years, the NWPC has remained steadfast to its mission to increase the number of pro-choice women in elected and appointed office. While we have made significant progress during the last 45 years, our work is not done. In July, we witnessed the first woman to be nominated to run for President by a major party. We now have three women appointed to the Supreme Court, and for women, the next appointee to the Supreme Court will fully set the direction of protections that matter to women, for years to come. We are still fighting for an Equal Rights Amendment! And for once and for all we will have the opportunity to elect a president, the most prepared qualified person to ever run for the highest office in the United States, one that looks like us, one that I believe, will bring true equality for women, Hillary Clinton.
Yes, Hillary Clinton’s nomination is historic and we are working hard to help her achieve victory on November 8th. But there is a lot at stake, much more than just the hype and show of possibly the first woman President. We have record numbers of women running down ballot this year. Hillary’s campaign has brought many women back out to the forefront and the doorstep, working to bring record numbers of women of all ages out to vote in this year. The 2015 elections left us with less progressive women in Federal office.
I believe races are won and lost with the ground game, a campaign’s “field” operation. Hillary’s ground game, in all 50 states, is what is going to help women down the ballot win their races There are tremendous resources being expended in all 50 states by HRC’s campaign. Those efforts will also help down ballot races. Hillary’s momentum leaves us very hopeful that we will elect six truly progressive women to the Senate and increase our numbers in the House. If we continue to work hard 2016 will truly be the Year of the Woman!
I know you may be tired, or busy, or just plain battle worn. If there was ever a time that women need to stand up be counted, it is now! It will take hard work, but we get there together!
We need to get on the phones, knock on doors, travel to battleground states and raise funds. We need to hold debate watch parties, talk to friends and neighbors and recruit new volunteers and members of NWPC. We need to let our candidates know that we support them. We need to recruit and train more women to run for elected office, our recruitment efforts start with you! We have made amazing progress and I look forward to witnessing that glass ceiling shatter in November!