WMC News: Women’s Equality Day, Nauru, Agunda Okeyo & more!
September 1, 2016
To Celebrate Women’s Equality Day, Keep Fighting for Voting Rights
By Mary C. Curtis | August 25, 2016
In June, when Hillary Clinton was celebrating her big win in the New Jersey primary and the delegate lead that would put her over the top to become the first female presidential nominee for a major political party, she acknowledged how she had come so far. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person,” she said. “It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”
Then she offered a personal tribute in that public moment to her mother, Dorothy Rodham, who lived to see her close race with Barack Obama in 2008 but died in 2011 before her daughter broke this particular glass ceiling. Clinton, who called her mother “the biggest influence in my life,” said: “This past Saturday would have been her 97th birthday, because she was born on June 4, 1919, and some of you may know the significance of that date. On the very day my mother was born in Chicago, Congress was passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment finally gave women the right to vote.”
That important, America-changing event is celebrated August 26, Women’s Equality Day, to commemorate the certification of the 19th Amendment. The U.S. Congress designated the day in 1971, prompted by the efforts of many, particularly the indomitable Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), the passionate leader who helped found the National Women’s’ Political Caucus. More>>
Image description: Rose Sanderson Women's suffragists demonstrate in 1913. Bain News Service Photographer unknown Library of Congress, Prints/Photographs Division
We Can No Longer Ignore Nauru: Atrocities Against Women, children plague Australian Detention Center
By Frances Nguyen | August 24, 2016
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies the tiny, remote island of Nauru, which has come under scrutiny recently by the media and human rights groups.
The Australian government, which provides direct aid to Nauru, uses the island to indefinitely hold asylum seekers who have traveled to Australia by boat. Whether or not they are identified as refugees, anyone who comes to Australia by boat is sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for “mandatory detention” as part of the Australian government’s policy. At the end of June, The Guardian reported, 442 people—338 men, 55 women, and 49 children—were being held at the center on Nauru.
Nauru’s Regional Processing Center closed in 2008, with Australia promising a more compassionate response to asylum seekers. But, as the numbers continued to grow, the detention center reopened in 2012. Since then, reports of abuse, sexualized violence, and suicide have steadily increased. Despite condemnation by human rights groups, the Australian government has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the center’s conditions, denying any responsibility since it is owned and operated under Nauruan law. More>>
Image description: A screenshot of The Guardian's report on the Nauru Files.
An Interview With Agunda Okeyo
By David G | August 29, 2016
Agunda Okeyo is, above all, an activist. While her work spans from the writing desk to the director’s chair, all of her projects have a unifying focus: raising awareness about feminism and the neo-civil rights movement.
One of the more famous events she organizes is “Sisters of Comedy,” a comedy show that features comediennes of color and which is hosted at comedy club Caroline’s in New York, the city she calls home. Established in 2014, the show also centers around a different, socially relevant theme each year. It’s especially important because it grants a voice to women of color in show business, proving to the comedy world that women of color can (of course) be funny and fill theater seats.
Ms. Okeyo spoke to us about this important work. More>>
Image description: Poster for Sisters of Comedy with caption "This Thursday only!"
This Women’s Equality Day, Let’s Remain Vigilant
By Carley Towne | August 26, 2016
August 26th is Women’s Equality Day. First designated by Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-NY20) in 1971, the day marks the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which formally granted women the right to vote. Over the decades, however, Women’s Equality Day has transformed into a celebration of not only the 19th Amendment, but also the continued struggle for equality and fairness that women of all backgrounds and ages across the United States face.
First, we would be doing Representative Abzug, appropriately nicknamed “Battling Bella,” and women everywhere a disfavor if we celebrated the passage of the 19th Amendment without recognizing its complex history. The 19th Amendment was not a victory for all women and to celebrate it as such is historically inaccurate and exclusionary: The amendment guaranteed only white women access to the polls. The voting rights of Black women (and men) remained actively suppressed by Jim Crow laws for years after, and only once the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 were barriers to political participation based on race or ethnicity barred. Lauding the 19th Amendment without recognizing its limitations, therefore, fails to come to acknowledge the ways in which the mainstream feminist movement has historically centered the lives of white women, and continues to do so. Recognizing the amendment’s limitations on its 50th Anniversary, therefore, is an overdue step in the right direction. More>>
Image description: Rosie the Riveter with caption "Today is Women’s Equality Day"
This week WMC SheSource features experts on Obama and the FDA’s approach to controlling the Zika virus, the peace agreement Colombia has reached with rebel group FARC, Mylan’s plans to offer generic EpiPens for a fraction of the cost, French secular laws banning the burkini, and upcoming National Addiction Recovery Day.
Sign up to receive regular emails highlighting women experts to speak on newsworthy issues.
TO SIGN UP TO RECEIVE WMC NEWS EVERY WEEK -- SIGN UP HERE
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the authors alone and do not represent WMC.
WMC is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates.
To support women journalists who are changing the conversation, donate to the WMC: