With the celebration of Women’s Equality Day yesterday, it is worth attention to point out statistics on women office holders in the history of America.
There have been 298 women House members, starting with Jeanette Rankin of Montana in 1917. There are 82 women House members in the present, with 62 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
There have been 44 women Senators, starting with Hattie Caraway of Arkansas in 1931, after Rebecca Felton of Georgia served for just one day in 1922. Twenty women serve as Senator in the present, 16 Democrats and 4 Republicans.
There have been 36 woman Governors, starting with Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming in 1927. Five women serve as Governor in the present, four Republicans and one Democrat.
Every state has elected women to the House of Representatives except Iowa, Mississippi, Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, and North Dakota, but the last two states have elected women to the US Senate.
The 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on this day in 1908, and he has undergone much attack in the four decades since he passed away in 1973 at the age of 64.
There is no question that LBJ divided the nation by his ill conceived escalation of the war in Vietnam, which still haunts millions of Americans who lost a loved one, or who have suffered with the psychic and physical wounds of war.
But LBJ cannot be forgotten for his tremendous advancements in civil rights; in fighting poverty; in establishing Medicare; promoting environmental reform and consumer protection; promoting a massive expansion of educational opportunity; establishing immigration reform; establishing the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation; promoting the creation of PBS and NPR; and supporting the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
So while LBJ did the nation wrong by the war in Vietnam, his domestic reforms, collectively known as the “Great Society”, brought about the greatest improvements in domestic life since the New Deal of FDR, and has not been matched since by any President.
So this is a day to remember and to honor LBJ for his accomplishments, while acknowledging his shortcomings!
Having just celebrated Women’s Equality Day yesterday, the 94th anniversary of the 19th (Women Suffrage) Amendment, it is important for us to understand the condition and reality of American women in 2014.
Women still make 77 cents to a man’s dollar.
One in five college women will experience sexual assault.
Some companies deny birth control coverage to their female workers under the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.
Two thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and many are single mothers.
America is one of only a very few industrialized nations with no mandated paid maternity leave.
Many states have passed more abortion restrictions, interfering with a woman’s rights under Roe V. Wade in the past three years, than in the past ten years.
We still have women being fired for becoming pregnant.
Twice as many women as men live in poverty when over age 65.
Child care costs more than college tuition in 36 states, making it impossible for women to work and pursue a career, and make up for loss of support from men, so often the case.
These realities are unacceptable in a nation that promotes justice and fairness, or claims to do so.
So much work needs to be done, and we cannot sit on our laurels at whatever advancements have been made!