August 26, 2020, is the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States a constitutional right to vote. The enactment of the 19th Amendment was the culmination of over a hundred years of activism by American women. Of course, even after its passage, it took many more of years of struggle before African American and Native American women won a real right to vote through passage of the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights legislation.
Unfortunately, these hard won rights are under attack today. Voter suppression efforts are rampant in the states, and Congress has yet to act to renew essential legislation like the Voting Rights Act. Though for decades women have been the majority of voters in most elections in the United States, as many as one third of women who were eligible to vote did not do so in the most recent presidential election. Moreover, although the numbers of women seeking and winning elective office are increasing, women are still a small percentage of elected office holders; for example, less than 20% of members of the United States Congress are women.
This electronic toolkit is intended to help IAM Local Lodges, especially Local Lodge Women’s Committees, celebrate the 19th Amendment Centennial and use this occasion as a springboard for educating, organizing and activating members in this important election year.
We can educate members about the 19th Amendment Centennial and the importance of voting and civic participation.
We can conduct events to register and encourage members to vote in the upcoming election.
We can mobilize members to take action around legislation promoting voting rights and women’s equity. There are many worthwhile local, state and federal legislative initiatives we can encourage members to support. The AFL-CIO has handy links for advocating two important ones at the federal level.
Encouraging women, especially union women, to run for elected office is one of the most empowering and important ways to celebrate and fully realize the potential and promise of the 19th Amendment. Start a conversation in your Local Lodge Women’s Committee about urging IAM members and other union women to run for elected office.