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The Fight Continues for Women's Equality in Iowa

Women’s Equality Day is a chance to encourage many ways to strengthen the lives of women.(Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
Women’s Equality Day is a chance to encourage many ways to strengthen the lives of women.
(Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
August 26, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa - Today is Women's Equality Day, a day set aside by Congress in 1971 to mark the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

While progress has been made, there's still a long way to go, said Mary Rae Bragg, president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. Bragg believes Women's Equality Day should be a chance to encourage many ways to strengthen the lives of women.

"It's important that young people, both men and women, appreciate what has been done by their forefathers and foremothers in trying to bring about this equity and make it a reality," she said.

Bragg pointed out that despite advances, the fight for equal rights for women is far from over. For example, pay inequity is an issue, with women earning about 77 cents for every dollar men are paid.

She also noted a lack of parity in business and political leadership. While half of Iowa voters are female, women comprise just 22 percent of the state Legislature.

"It is just a matter of equity," she added. "If there are a certain number of individuals who are being represented they certainly should have an opportunity to be included at that same level. And that's a fight that continues."

Societal change is required to ensure equality for all Americans, said Braggs. She argued that's always much more difficult than passing a few laws and saying the job is done.

"The job isn't done until there is real equity, we have real representation on the same basis of gender as we do in all other aspects of our lives," she said.

She noted that even though women's voting rights were constitutionally guaranteed in 1920, women of color were excluded from the polls for decades, and it wasn't until 1957 that Native American women were allowed to vote in all states.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA