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Matilda Joslyn Gage makes Forbes on Women's Equality Day

Matilda Joslyn Gage

This article originally appeared on the Forbes website.

Women’s Equality Day happens on August 26th in remembrance of the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 that gave some women, but not all women, the right to vote. Now more than 100 years later, Women’s Equality Day is still so important because many of the issues the suffragists fought for—such as equal pay and reproductive justice—are still being fought for today.

“Look at the direction we've come from and the repression of women in the 19th century when women were considered dead in the law once they married; they had no legal existence,” says Sally Roesch Wagner, a major historian of the suffrage movement and founder of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue. “This meant husbands could will away children, unborn children. They had the right to beat their wives, as long as they didn't inflict permanent injury. Women had no control over their bodies. Once they married, all their property and possessions became their husband’s. So if we look at the trajectory of 150 years or 200 years, that's how far we've come from that tradition. Yet we have not begun to reach any semblance of equality and equity, and we don't have the guarantee of equal rights in the Constitution.”

On this historic day honoring the fight for women’s right to cast their ballots, it’s important to also acknowledge the many other converging issues involved—such as racial equity—as well as the untold stories of women from this movement who weren’t included in our history books. There are many women who didn’t get the recognition they deserved; this article will focus on one in particular. Here are some lessons that the first women’s rights movement can teach us about continuing to push for equality today. Read more...