This year marks the anniversary of 90 years of women’s right to vote in the United States.  I happily joined in the celebrations sprinkled throughout the country to commemorate this important milestone by watching “Iron-Jawed Angels” in Boston.  The crowd was comprised of high school and college students, and diverse professional women, including the great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Using modern music and unique cinematography, the film portrayed the grueling fight for women’s suffrage in the early twentieth century.
I left the film with a newfound sense of respect for my foremothers.  They taught me the true meaning of two essential virtues: hard work and dedication.
Even though the Declaration of Sentiments was filed at Seneca Falls in 1848, taking a stand against discrimination based on gender, it would be another 72 years until every woman in the country had the right to vote.  It would be over 110 years before the signing of the Equal Pay Act and before the first woman would be allowed run the Boston marathon!
Today, young girls list off their future aspirations without hesitation.  “I want to be a veterinarian, a singer, or an architect.”  That girls feel any of these careers are so easily within reach is a testament to the work of the suffragists, the feminists of the 1970s, and many more who followed.
But do girls understand why they are empowered to make these choices today?
Strong Women, Strong Girls teaches girls about women like Regina Benjamin and Geraldine Ferraro, knowing that sometimes the accomplishments of women are overlooked in history class.  Knowledge of women’s pivotal role in our nation’s history is important for girls’ self-confidence, development of goals, and feeling of belonging.
Equally as important, the girls will learn about the blood, sweat, and tears that led to the choices we have today.  And our work is not done!  Maternity leave and benefits are far inferior to those of other Western nations.  Women comprise 90% of all sweatshop workers.  And the past 7 years have witnessed a startling 220 domestic violence homicides in Massachusetts.
A deeper understanding of women’s past obstacles leads to a deeper sense of obligation to current and future generations.  By understanding the role of women in our history, our girls will not only be thankful for the opportunities they have, but continue to fight for even more opportunities for their granddaughters.
“Iron Jawed Angels” HBO Trailer