Women have been making an impact on the world since the beginning of time. Women in leadership roles is not a new concept when we think about heroines such as Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and Queen Elizabeth I. Throughout history, there have been many women leaders who have made significant contributions. Marie Curie founded the science of radioactivity and her discoveries launched effective cures for cancer. Rosa Parks declined to give her seat on a bus to a White person. She bravely challenged segregation, and this protest sparked the Civil Rights Movement, which eventually led to equal rights for Black people throughout the United States. Elizabeth Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony played critical roles in Women's Suffrage Movement.
2020 also marks the 100th year of women's right to vote. It took almost seventy-two years of planning, organizing, and fighting to recognize the voice of women as adding value to the infrastructure of policies and procedures. The road to suffrage began in 1848 and successfully culminated on August 18, 1920 with the finalization of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. For the first time, women, like men, now had all the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.
That journey toward Woman’s Suffrage began when Julia Howe and Lucy Stone founded the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). This organization advocated for Black suffrage and the enforcement of the 15th Amendment, which gave all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Elizabeth Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony also joined in this fight and met to begin planning for a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. That convention initiated the long struggle toward women's suffrage and women's rights. Together they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). NWSA focused solely on equal rights for women. In 1890, the NWSA and the AWSA merged under the leadership of Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Catt into the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Women continued to provide leadership in other movements, too. These movements include the fight for health, prison, and child labor law reform, to name a few.
Today there are thousands of women in politics. The early women's rights pioneers paved the way for women like Shirley Chisolm, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, and Condoleezza Rice to gain prominence and shine a light on the rights of women.
Recently, there has been a resurgence of feminist movements such as "The Future Is Female" and "Times Up." Women such as Mary Barra, Melinda Gates, Abigail Johnson, Ginni Rometty, and Bozoma Saint John have been emerging in corporate leadership roles and becoming C-Suite executives. Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, and Ava DuVernay have also been stepping up as executive producers, film directors, and music executives in their careers.
The fight for equal rights for women did not just lead to the right to vote. It has led to opportunities and inclusion in almost every aspect of government, community, and business. The world continues to position itself to view women as partners and contributors.