This month Paula Cullison presented at an event celebrating the 95th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment presented with National Bank of AZ. She forwarded me her comments, and I thought the words and her-story are very articulate and compelling. The event was sold out so if you where not able to attend I am pleased to share them with you.
Noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I am so happy to be honoring our foremothers and sisters with you. Let us always remember them: Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Alice Paul and the hundreds of others who showed an enormous strength of courage in the face of adversity.
They never gave up. Harassed, attacked, imprisoned and force fed when they went on a hunger strike, they stood firm. They never lost hope that women would be given the right to vote. Pres. Wilson ‘caved in’ because the public opinion was turning against him. The amendment finally passed by one vote in 1920.
Remember that many of the suffragists were abolitionists first …they fought to end slavery.
Social justice was in the forefront of their minds.
The Suffragists also set the stage for the labor union movement most notably the International Ladies Garment Workers Union ILGWU. Their concerns were for fair wages and working conditions. My mother was a member ILGWU. Most do not realize that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was originally introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul. It was finally headed for passage in 1972 until the right wing conservative moment stop gapped it. We were only three states short for passage. Unfortunately, the move for the ERA died in 1982, as it was not reintroduced. We gave up. The suffragists would not have given up. Shame on US for giving up. Momentum for the ERA is building again and it’s up to us to get it passed. The time is now. We deserve it … In the USA … ALL MEN and WOMEN are created equal.
1979 the world was in awe when the UN presented the CEDAW … and incredible all encompassing document. To date 190 nations have ratified it…. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get it through the US Congress. The US is one of the few countries that have not ratified it. Shame on US for giving up. A new grass roots movement is a foot called Cities for CEDAW.
We must work to ratify CEDAW. … and the time is now. We must work together and see that Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Flagstaff are added to the ever growing list of Cities for CEDAW. Join me to make this happen.
It was Bella Abzug, the former Congresswoman from NY who was instrumental in having congress set designate Aug 26th at Women’s Equality Day. Please send out the American Greeting’s e-cards to celebrate this great day. It took over a year of phone calls and letters to get them to offer it. Let’s send them.
Twenty-four years ago, I invited Bella Abzug to speak here at this very conference center on the Politics of the Environment .. Eco-feminism. She admonished us: Don’t walk softly and carry a lipstick. It’s time for action.
Bella emphasized that women must be half of all the decision makers in all areas: government, business, education, military, peace negotiations and environmental issues. Equal pay for equal work is a human right. We must not rest until there is parity. Furthermore, women deserved to be fully recognized. We deserve the ERA and CEDAW.
We must not settle for less. We must not give up. We have work to do … and the time is now. Let us not forget our sisters in their struggle for equality …. no matter where they live.
As Gandhi said:
We must be the change that we want to see in the world.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
National Women’s History Project
Paula Cullison is the Pres / Founder of the Arizona Women’s Partnership, an all volunteer
philanthropic non-profit which provides grants to qualified charities that assist under-served
women and children in AZ. www.azwp.org
Cullison is a freelance travel writer and photographer who is passionate about encouraging
students to travel so they can fully understand the interconnectedness of all people.
Her photography exhibit, Have Passport – Will Travel, is making the rounds at college campuses.
Paula Cullison is mentioned in No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think
About Power by Gloria Feldt.