Voting is real women's work
BY PASCALE LANE
Friday, October 26, 2012
10/26/12 at 4:25 AM
Harassment, imprisonment, torture and death have all been part of gaining the right to vote. I am not referring to the Arab Spring or obscure countries far, far away. No, our foremothers bravely battled and suffered for women to have the right to vote in the United States, a right many of us fail to exercise.
Women have come a long way since the 19th Amendment became law in 1920. We now participate fully in American life, including business, government and sports. But we still have a long way to go before we achieve complete equality.
Even though women now earn the majority of college degrees, a stubborn wage gap remains. We still make 77 percent of what men do, with even worse gaps for women of color. Women make up only 15 percent of corporate board members, even though evidence is mounting that more women on boards means more profits. The U.S. Olympic team featured more women than men for the first time, yet NBC's coverage highlighted far more male athletic events.
Many issues that affect women have been in the news lately and figure in the upcoming elections. The economy, health care, social safety nets and college affordability are all being debated by mostly male lawmakers.
Women need a voice at the table, even if that voice comes from a man. Only by voting can we hope to be heard in our city councils, state legislatures or Washington, D.C.
The millennial generation is the largest group of voters since the baby boomers, and young women hit the polls with enthusiasm in 2008.
Unfortunately, over time they have become less involved. The current political climate of name-calling and obstruction has turned off some women. However, the stakes are too high to stay home.
Voting should be every citizen's most important priority. Young women, especially, need to use their 19th Amendment rights if they want policies and programs that work.
Don't waste the opportunity to vote; use that tool for which people still fight and suffer. Learn about the candidates and issues; there is more to consider than the national election. Oklahomans will vote on six changes to our Constitution and government processes. To make good choices, the League of Women Voters posts local ballots at tulsaworld.com/vote411
Finally, Oklahoma requires identification at the polls. While a driver's license, passport or other government photo ID will work, so will the voter registration card mailed to your address, even though it has no photo.
Prepare and vote. It's the patriotic thing to do.
Pascale Lane is professor of pediatrics at The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, founder of Academic Women for Equality Now (awenow.org) and a member of the American Association of University Women.
A voter completes her ballot at the Tulsa County Election Board. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file
Pascale Lane: Don't waste the opportunity to vote; use that tool for which people still fight and suffer