Let's Talk Human Rights Blog: "Women's Equality Day"

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Wendy Musgrave

Our guest blogger this month (for both blogs), Wendy Musgrave, was appointed to serve on the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 2018. A native of Newell, Iowa, Wendy now resides in Johnston with her husband and two daughters. Wendy has a BFA in Graphic Design from Iowa State University and a Masters of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. Wendy was a freelance publication designer and photographer, and is now a pastor.

Wendy is the mother of two daughters and has been a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, and a graduate student mom at various times since the birth of her first daughter in 2004. Because of this experience, the issues facing women and particularly mothers of young children are of interest for Wendy. In her role as clergy, a traditionally male dominated role, Wendy knows the value of the work for equal opportunity for women. She appreciates the women who have paved the way before her, and she aspires to continue the important work of inspiring and empowering the next generation of women leaders.

Women's Equality Day

Every August 26 we celebrate Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the ratification of the 19th amendment. This amendment is a constitutional guarantee to women throughout the United States of America of the right to vote. Congress had passed the 19th amendment on June 4, 1919, but it needed to be ratified by at least 36 states to amend the Constitution. Iowa ratified the 19th amendment on July 2, 1919. On August 18, 1920, by one tie-breaking vote, Tennessee ratified the amendment making Tennessee the 36th state to ratify. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby received the official package of documents on August 26, 1920, and proclaimed the 19th amendment the law of the land.

After nearly a century of hard work to pave the way for women’s suffrage, Secretary Colby signed the proclamation away from cameras and with none of the suffragists present to witness the culmination of all their sweat and tears. It is hard to imagine in our media-centric world today, that a lawmaker would pass up the chance for a photo op signing the amendment granting voting rights to half of our nation’s population, but there were no photos or film footage taken of this monumental moment in the history of our nation.

Upon hearing the news of Secretary Colby’s signing of the proclamation, suffragist Alice Paul is quoted to have said, “August 26 will be remembered as one of the great days in the history of the women of the world and in the history of this republic. All women must feel a great sense of triumph and of unmeasurable relief at the successful conclusion of a long and exhausting struggle.”

Women’s Equality Day is a day to celebrate the countless women over many decades who marched, lectured, protested, wrote, published, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to guarantee all women the right to vote. It is a time to celebrate women leaders who have gone before us, paving the way toward increased opportunity for women. It is a time to recognize and remember their stories, their sacrifices, and their struggles.

Women’s Equality Day is also an opportunity to pause and draw our attention to the places in which equality is yet a dream. While August 26, 1920, marked a “triumph…at the successful conclusion of a long and exhausting struggle” for women’s suffrage, it is one, hard-won, monumental step on a long and exhausting struggle toward women’s equality. True equality is not achieved until it is made real for women in all sectors and industries, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, or socioeconomic status.

As a commissioner, this vision of equality motivates me in the work of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. Together we envision an Iowa with greater opportunity for economic stability and career growth for women. We envision Iowa workplaces and institutions that are free from gender-based discrimination. We envision Iowa women living free from sexual harassment and violence. We envision an Iowa in which women are supported in leadership positions and have access to the training opportunities they need to succeed. In this vital work, we celebrate the women of the suffrage movement who gave us the fundamental rights necessary to achieve true equality for all women.

Celebrating this year's honorees: Iowa Women's Hall of Fame

You are invited join us in honoring the accomplishments of a few of Iowa’s inspiring women. This year The Honorable Ruth B. Klotz, Mona Kadel Martin, Ione Genevieve Shadduck, PhD, and Florine Mary Schulte Swanson will be inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, and Mary Beth Tinker will be awarded the the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice. The 2019 Induction ceremony for Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame will be held on Saturday, August 24, at 9:30 am, at the Urbandale Performing Arts Center.

This is my second year serving as a member of the selection committee, and I have had the honor of chairing the 2019 committee. I would like to thank the committee members for their careful attention to all of the applications from many extraordinary Iowa women. The selection each year is difficult. It is inspiring to read the stories of women from all over the state that, overcoming barriers, have worked to eliminate barriers and provide opportunities for other women and girls, improving the lives of others in Iowa and beyond. 

This year’s inductees represent women who have been trail blazers in their fields. They are women who found creative ways to make opportunities for themselves and others when opportunities were difficult to come by. As these women achieved success, they were attentive to ways to lift others around them, opening doors for those who would follow.

Their list of accomplishments are as long as their bios are impressive. To give you a peek at the impact made by the women we are inducting this year, I would like to share with you a few words about each inductee from their nominators.

The Honorable Ruth B. Klotz

“In a time when men dominated the legal field, she became the first probate judge in the State of Iowa in 1978. To have such a role model and mentor opened many women to the possibility of law and the judiciary as an intended profession. However, it was more than just her unique status as a female judge which made her stand out among her peers. It was her dedication, her mental acuity, and warm disposition which was admired. Further, she actively mentored interns and law clerks to encourage the next generation of lawyers and judges.”

-Written by nominator Celene Gogerty

Mona Kadel Martin 

“Advocacy, Education, Equity and Leadership: Mona Martin is the embodiment of these keywords. Whether it was in her various work environments, the legislature, civic groups to which she belonged or local organizations, Mona always advocated for fairness and practical solutions for women, youth, the elderly, and the environment.”

-Written by Elaine Kresse, Rosanne Krubsack, and Doris Mack in a letter of support

Ione Genevieve Shadduck, PhD 

“Ione [is and] was an initiator. She would assess areas of concern and start conversations. Her style was to encourage others to take action and to receive recognition while she provided much needed support… To meet Ione is to know you have met a woman who has passion in every cell of her body for every woman and girl to be able to reach their potential and to live a life feeling safe and supported for their gifts and goals in life.”

-Written by Dianne Fagner, nominator

Florine Mary Schulte Swanson

“Woven throughout these activities, 4-H and other rural programs have been a constant for Florine, from the local to the international levels. Whatever the program, she was a teacher, a coach, and organizer, facilitating the program so that others could participate and grow. When she was out of her home state, she was always, among her other endeavors, the proud Iowa Farmer, proclaiming the virtues of the great agricultural contributions from Iowa, and especially her beloved Iowa State University that have made a difference in the world.”

-Written by Kathleen Wood Laurila, in a letter of support

Mary Beth Tinker

“In hearing Mary Beth speak about what she did several times, it is remarkable to hear her emphasize how important it is to take action on issues we care about even if it means there will be consequences for doing so.”

-- Written by Stefanie Wager, in a nomination letter

Please join us in honoring the 2019 inductees to the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame and the 2019 recipient of the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice.

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