Women's Equality Day has been celebrated annually for over 20 years with a program by a local Dallas women's organization, Women's Issues Network (WIN). The group will celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment allowing women the right to vote with an event at Dallas City Hall. Over 100 women will descend upon City Hall wearing white to represent the suffragists who lobbied for women to vote.
The program will be held on August 21 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Flag Room on the 6th floor of City Hall located at 1500 Marilla Drive. The Mayor will be a featured speaker and City Council Members will be in attendance. The event is free and open to the public.
Although women's voting rights are taken for granted today, they were earned through a long brutal campaign by women that began in the 1700's and culminated nearly 150 years later when the 19th Amendment was passed on August 26, 1920.
Until that time, women were not allowed the right to own property, to have legal claim to the money they earned, nor the right to vote. Clothes, jewelry, and land were owned by their husbands or fathers. Bibles were one of their few possessions that they could hand down to their children.
Formed in 1980, WIN has continuously worked for women’s rights and equality.
WIN member and Oak Lawn resident Scherry Johnson recalls that in 1976, she was told she could not purchase a car without her husband’s signature.
“The seller of the car accompanied me to the credit union to compete the purchase,” Johnson said.”The officials would not let me withdraw the money without my husband’s signature.”
Johnson told them she was not leaving until she had her money. The employees proceeded to close up the bank and, seeing the ladies still waiting, they reluctantly allowed her to withdraw the money.
“I have worked for equality since that time nearly 40 years ago,” she said. “Women are getting complacent and with the current backlash, we are having to work again for rights that have been taken for granted.”
WIN member and Preston Hollow resident Dr. Catalina Garcia said that as a female physician in the early 80s, she had to prove her capabilities in order for attitudes to change and to be treated equally.
“When I was a resident, a problem came up during surgery. I volunteered a solution which was put into place and it worked,” she said. “Immediately after, the surgeon said to me, "Well, even if your are a girl at least you are smart."
Event co-sponsors include League of Women Voters, National Council of Jewish Women-Greater Dallas Section, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, South East Dallas Business & Professional Women’s Club, and Dallas Women’s Foundation.
Photo by Deborah Brown