|Nadine Bray, Women's Issues chair from the Brunswick Town Chapter|
law, the legal system based on tradition, customs, and precedent. Men
represented the public sphere and women the private sphere. This separation,
usually based on patriarchal notions, resulted in men being the sole delegate for
issues outside of the household, including voting rights. The early founders of
In July 1917, women picketed outside the White House to protest President Wilson’s continued refusal to support women’s suffrage. They were arrested and jailed in the Occoquan Workhouse in
After a long struggle, women had garnered the right to vote. But even after women were able to cast a ballot in local and national elections, many women did not exercise their right. The initial lack of voter turnout by women has been attributed to a number of factors. Women may have needed some time to learn how to incorporate voting as a behavior into their lifestyle. Also, strong gender-role expectations encouraged women to view voting as something their husband or father was in charge of and did not see their vote as an important part of their role.
However, among the seeds of the woman’s suffrage movement was the seed of broader social participation. For example, women began to organize around issues they cared about, particularly civil rights, prohibition, domestic violence, and the welfare of children. Early women’s organizations, such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the League of Women Voters, spearheaded women’s direct involvement in domestic and international public policy issues and organized women to vote across the country.
Decades later, women’s voting percentages are alarmingly low For example, in the 2008 presidential election; 60 percent of the approximately 115 million women eligible to vote – cast a ballot. The most recent census showed that only 46.2% of female citizens 18 and older reported voting in the 2010 congressional election -- 66/6% reported being registered to vote. Clearly, the right for which American women fought so courageously for so long – and for which women in other parts of the world are bravely fighting today – is taken for granted. That said, women do exercise the right to vote in much greater numbers and greater percentages than men. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion of female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of male adults who voted.
American Red Cross recently stated: “Each time we vote, we celebrate the
advances made by these brave women and others who came before us. Every
woman in American should commemorate those achievements by casting a
ballot on Election Day. We owe our forbearers nothing less.”
Visit the NC State Board of Elections (www.sboe.state.nc.us) and check the status of your registration. You can also view additional information such as the sample ballot for your district.