19th Amendment Centennial Virtual Toolkit
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.
- The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative provides excellent resources for learning about the 19th Amendment Centennial and the struggle for women’s right to vote. Check out the listing of suffrage projects by state and for a local event or project members can participate in, or review the suggestions and resources on how to get involved in promoting and celebrating the Centennial in your community.
- The 2020 One Woman One Vote Festival has resources to help set up your own online film festival event or participate in national screenings of films celebrating and encouraging women’s empowerment.
We can conduct events to register and encourage members to vote in the upcoming election.
- The national League of Women Voters has some great tips on putting together a voter registration drive.
- The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) has partnered with non-partisan group When We All Vote (WWAV) to promote voter registration and participation by women unionists in the 2020 elections. Tools on the WWAV website allow you to check to see if you are registered to vote, register to vote, pledge to vote and get information on voting in your state. CLUW developed promotional materials that you can use to encourage people to use the WWAV resources through a special CLUW portal. A copy is attached to this email.
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.
- Members can pressure Congress to renew the Voting Rights Act by writing or calling their U.S. Representatives and Senators or by signing a petition.
- Members can urge their U.S. Senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 7. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the existing equal pay laws that contribute the substantial gap in earnings between women and men in the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7 in 2019, but the U.S. Senate has refused to bring it to a vote.
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.
- The non-partisan group She Should Run has lots of resources and ideas for activities to support women seeking elected office.