Women’s History Not a Month – A Movement

womens-history1In five short years we will celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage. Yet women today have not reached equity and are not at the top levels of leadership. Almost 40 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women still earn 80 cents to the male dollar. Latinas earn 60 cents and 30% of all female headed households are in poverty. Today the most common job for women is still secretaries! A woman with a college degree can expect to make 1.2 million less over her life time than her male counterparts. And AARP members listen up – elder women are one of the fastest growing poverty groups. On the average their income is $8,000 a year less than retired men.

And politically? The US ranks 98th for women’s national political representation – behind Kenya and Indonesia; and barely ahead
of the United Arab Emirates.

Today let us recommit to the pioneer spirit, courage and determination of the early women of the west. As we approach the 100th year anniversary of women’s right to vote, let us embrace their fortitude, “can do” attitude, and vision of a better future. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the pioneer women who trudged new ground and overcame great obstacles to build our communities and our nation!

American Indian Women

womens-history2We must remembered that the American West had tribes and cultures that inhabited this great land before White settlers. While we emulate the women who settled the West we know that American Indian women were brave leaders who sustained their cultural traditions, fought for their people’ s rights, and whose legacy today is over 500 Indian tribes who continue to enrich this land and our country.

Women in the West Still Forging New Ground

The Western pioneer spirit is still evident today. There is an openness, a spirit of discovery and adventure, and a welcoming of new comers in the west. Much different than Eastern United States where established families and communities have been there for generations and where the land is not vast open space.

In the US today women make up 25% of state legislators. But the Western States tromp others: Colorado boast 42%; Arizona 36%; Washington State and Nevada 33%; Montana 31%; Idaho 28%; California 27%; and way out west in Hawaii 29%. The west continues to be a place where women can make their mark.

A few western landmarks: Jeannette Rankin from Wyoming was the first woman elected to congress in 1917; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi from California served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and as such is the highest ranking female politician in US history. The west including Alaska, Hawaii, California, North Dakota, Washington State claim 7 of the 20 US Women Senators. California and Washington State are the only states where both senators are female.

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