Jess Myers is Director of UMBC’s Women’s Center.
As director of the Women’s Center, I am used to getting comments like, “Well, women are equal right? We can vote now.” And, while it is very true that women can indeed vote, it doesn’t mean we’re quite done fighting for our equality.
Here are a few more facts. Even though women are half of the US population, we are still a special interest group. Women hold only 90, or 16.8%, of the 535 seats in the 112th US Congress. The United States has never had a woman as its President. So, though we are strong in our overall numbers, we are weak in representation. If we consider the intersections of various other identities (the representation of women of color, LGBT women, or women with disabilities, for example) the statistics are even bleaker. What does this mean for women?
It is not enough for women to have the right to vote. We have to use the right. On Twitter, you can find the call to do so in the hashtag #usethe19th. At UMBC, I feel proud that so many women in our community are finding ways to passionately use the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution and encouraging others to do the same as a means to promoting women’s issues as everyone’s issues. I am constantly impressed with the thoughtful ways women students, faculty, and staff use their constitutional right through activism and social change. Every day they are breaking ground as they promote personal and civic agency to co-create the culture of UMBC and their communities.
So, without further ado, I present to you UMBC’s very own #usethe19th Roundup: Best “Tweets” for Women and the 2012 Election:
@Caitlyn Leiter-Mason: As a woman, being in control of my body, having codified protections against sexual violence and harassment, and having my right to equal pay for equal work recognized and defended are BASIC issues. They’re not distractions from ‘real’ issues – they’re foundational. If I don’t have these rights and protections, then very little else matters. That’s why I #usethe19th.
Caitlyn is an elected delegate to the DNC from the 6th Congressional District. She also serves as President of College Democrats and has been actively engaged on campus in coordinating voter registration drives and phone banks for Maryland referendums such as marriage equality and the Dream Act. She is a double major in GWST and Political Science.
@Kelly Broderick: I believe the vote has the power to be transformative, but you have to use it to start to change the world. This is also why I’m so excited to hear from the panelists at WILL’s Women in Politics panel discussion on October 10th. These women all work in politics, either to support women running for office or they have run for office themselves, but they wouldn’t be where they are today if we didn’t have the 19th. I #usethe19th to change the world.
Kelly is a GWST major and is a Women’s Center intern. She serves as a co-leader of WILL and has spent countless hours this semester organizing a Women In Politics panel event. Kelly is also trained to register voters and has been helping UMBC to get out the vote.
@Kathleen Algire-Fedarcyk: This year, thus far, here are some of the actions taken against women: Equating birth control with promiscuity, attempting to create “legitimate rape” and not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. As a social work student, I know how important advocacy is and voting is the most fundamental way that I can advocate for myself. Women have already fought for the tool, we just need to use it #usethe19th.
Kathleen is Social Work major and President of the Social Worker Student Association. She also is a Women’s Center intern. She has been supportive of Retrievers for Equality and has been working to help students register to vote this semester.
@Dr. Jodi Kelber-Kaye: The battle to win the women’s right to vote took over 70 years. Women died before they saw the realization of their hard work, and yet they worked just as hard, knowing they wouldn’t live to see that day. We owe them enormous debts of gratitude for their sacrifices. #usethe19th, it’sone of the most important voices we have.
Jodi is the Associate Director of the Honors College and previously served as a faculty member in GWST. You can find her actively engaging in conversations with students and the greater Baltimore community around the importance of civic engagement, voting, and raising awareness around key referendum questions such as marriage equality and the Dream Act.
What are you doing on campus and in your community to #usethe19th? What do you wish you’d see more of as we gear up for the 2012 Election? Share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below! As a reminder, the Maryland voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 16th. Also, stay tuned for opportunities to discuss these important issues and more at an upcoming Women’s Center event.
Contact the author, Jess Myers, at firstname.lastname@example.org.