In 1908, a group of 15,000 brave women marched through New York City demanding suffrage – the right to vote and run for office. In honor of their courage, I have a brief story to share.
I love live concerts. When my older son asked me to take him to Chicago for Lollapalooza a few years back, I immediately said yes. We had so much fun that we’ve returned every year since, most recently adding to the fun by bringing along my younger son and niece.
A year ago, as we joined with thousands of others making our way into Grant Park for opening day, almost giddy with the anticipation of the fun weekend ahead, the mood of the crowd suddenly changed. The snake of people had wound through a group of protesters spouting hate messages towards anyone and everyone with lifestyles other than their own. Some of the concertgoers started shouting back at the protesters beginning an angry exchange. As I clung to the joy and Zen feelings from just a few minutes earlier, I tried to feel empathy for these protestors, especially when I noticed women and children joined the men.
So what does all of this have to do with International Women’s Day? My composure was shaken when I took a double take; one of the signs spelled out “Repeal Women’s Right to Vote!” What? I was dumbfounded. It never occurred to me that anyone in this country felt that women should not have a say in our society.
For a split second, I felt like those brave women who took to the streets in 1908. It would be 12 years later in 1920 that women in the United States would be granted the right to vote with passage of the 19th Amendment.
International Women’s Day is now an official holiday across the world from Afghanistan to Zambia. Today is a day for men, women, and children to celebrate how far we’ve come as a global society, and our path together in making the world inclusive and socially just for all on the planet. I will never again take for granted our freedoms and privileges.
Happy International Women’s Day 2012!