March is Women's History Month, and this month's celebration is particularly notable because this is the centenary of women's suffrage.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the vote was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending nearly a century of protest.
The amendment reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
The movement for women's rights first began on a national level nearly seven decades earlier with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. The demand for the vote then became a centerpiece of the women's rights movement.
Fast forward to today: Whether it's in science, the arts, sports or even government, women leaders still must work harder to break barriers and be accepted as equals in the workplace.
This year, however, thanks to the sacrifices of our suffragette forbears, we have at our fingertips the most powerful and prolific method by which we can affect change in society. We can stand up, speak out, and be counted. We can vote.
It took 72 years to establish women's rights by law, and we have spent the last 100 years protecting those rights; each and every day. Now, we are duty-bound to honor the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and so many others who fought to achieve what remains the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation's history.
Democracy is participatory. And there are a number of ways in which women — and all advocates for women — can get involved in the political process. A few great examples include:
Volunteer on a local, state or federal campaign. Every campaign, whether for president or dog catcher, can use help. And almost every one of them can find a way to maximize your interests and talents.
Knock on doors, make phone calls, stuff letters or host a get-together for your candidate.
Speak up. There would never have been a 19th Amendment without the 1st Amendment, so write a letter or op-ed to the editor of your local paper, blog about your perspective on government, tweet, post to Facebook. Your opinion and perspective matters. Don't be afraid to share it!
Vote. If you're not registered, do so right now. It's easy. Also educate yourself as to the issues and people who will appear on your ballot, and what they stand for. Make a plan to vote. Not just in November, but also in your state's primary elections as well. Maximize your participation.
While women are poised to comprise just over half of voters in the upcoming presidential election in November, it's clear we remain far behind our male counterparts when it comes to enjoying many equal rights and privileges in society.
Helping to lead the fight for change makes it sweeter as it's being accomplished.
Women's History Month is about educating all of society by celebrating and sharing the economic, political and social achievements of women.
But everyone — men and women alike — can resolve to not only talk about equality and progress, but to work for it. That's the great thing about the centennial corresponding with a major election year.
Let's honor the legacy of our lady pioneers by getting to work in support of candidates who fight for equality. It doesn't matter your ideology or party.
We can all work together to raise each other up and fight for a fairer, more equal society —during Women's History Month, and all year round.
Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen, the world's largest breast cancer charity, has served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary, U.S. chief of protocol, and as a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. She is continuing her work in efforts to end death from cancer. The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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