By: Stephanie Drahan, Outreach AssociatePosted on August 26, 2010 Issues: Connecting the Issues

Today, is Women’s Equality Day, which represents the anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment giving women the right to vote. It has now been 90 years since women were given the right to vote and I am struck by two things — how short a period of time that actually is, and how far women have come since gaining the right to vote.

I also enjoy the fact that women have adopted this right with relish — exercising this right at higher rates than men. Voting is an incredible power bestowed upon every citizen over the age of 18. The right to vote has enabled women to improve their standing in society both directly and indirectly. The mere ability of having the power to vote makes our government more responsive to women’s needs and opinions, and yet, if our government ever takes women for granted we can exercise our right and enact political change with our vote.

This duality is evident when looking at women’s right to choose. As we know, women gained abortion rights, not through legislation by policymakers, but instead through the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. We also know that the debate over Roe rages on, and women are able to continue the fight for this right through their votes and having their voices heard at the polls.

Today is a day to reflect on how far women have come in these short 90 years; we’ve entered higher education and the work force en masse, gained greater control over our bodies, and made a host of other gains in our personal and professional lives. I have a hard time believing any of this change would have been possible without the right to vote, yet millions of women (and men) routinely forgo a trip to the polls.

So Happy Women’s Equality Day. Take today to think about what America would look like without women being engaged in the political process, but also think about what women could accomplish in the next 90 years if even more women embraced and utilized their right to vote.