Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 26, 2010 in General

By Annie Fikes

May 19th, 2009 was an election day in California. I use the word “election” loosely; no one was actually elected, but 6 ballot measures were up for the vote. I got my pamphlet weeks in advance. I poured over it, googled propositions, and read pro and con arguments. I was prepared.

The 19th felt like Christmas. I got in my van and drove over to my polling station at Our Mother of Confidence. I was the most excited person there. There wasn’t a lot of competition. The one other voter’s expression clearly indicated that this was not going to be the highlight of her day. The exhausted poll-workers looked at me like a UFO had just dropped me off when I picked up my ballot with a bounce in my step.

And then, I voted

It was great! I slapped my “I Voted” sticker on my chest with pride and headed out into the world giddy with political efficacy.

August 26th, 1920 was the day that women in the U.S. were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment.  In 1971, August 26th was declared a national holiday to celebrate the equality that so many women worked so hard to achieve. Since then, this country has made an amazing amount of progress toward gender equality.

The truth is that gender inequality is still part of everyday life for many women in the U.S., and even more so in other places around the world. Part of Plant With Purpose’s goal is to empower women in the countries where we work. Increased involvement in the community, developing capacities, and contributing to their family’s income is the best way to promote women’s equality.

In rural Thailand, women are marginalized because of their gender, and face the danger of being captured by the sex-trafficking industry. Women are often at risk of being forced or lured into human trafficking, and shipped into other countries for sex slavery and forced labor. Poverty is an underlying cause of sex trafficking, and by combating poverty, Plant With Purpose helps people in rural Thailand, and other nations, avoid falling victim to human traffickers.

Plant With Purpose also strives to improve the position of Thai women within their villages. Plant With Purpose uses workshops in microfinance and handicrafts, such as using natural dyes and soap making, to empower women by building skills they can use to help their families and communities. To strengthen the role of women in Thailand, Plant With Purpose recently began women’s health and literacy programs. Instead of battling directly for women’s rights, Plant With Purpose is helping women become more involved in their communities and use their contributions to prove that they deserve equality.

May 19th, 2009 was the first time I ever voted. I missed voting in the 2008 Presidential Election by 17 days. I’m a little bitter. However, I am grateful that I have the right to vote at all, and voting reminds me to be grateful for the equality that women have in this country. Part of Plant With Purpose’s mission is to empower women in rural areas, helping them get the respect from others and from themselves and come closer to achieving equality.

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