We are in the midst of a celebration of strong women this week, both here in Frederick County and across the nation.
Today is Women’s Equality Day, celebrated since 1972 in the United States. It commemorates Aug. 26, 1920, as the date on which the 19th Amendment was formally added to the Constitution, prohibiting states from preventing voting on the basis of gender.
The Suffragette Movement — led by visionary American women and indeed by many others from all around the globe — had been working since at least the 1860s to win the right to vote.
It has been a long, arduous journey for women since that day 100 years ago to turn their votes into political power. Women elected officials remained a rarity for decades after the vote was won. But times are changing.
Their rise often started with local school boards, but has broadened to include city, county, state and federal government roles, and just last week a woman was nominated for vice president on a major party ticket, just the third woman so named and the first woman of color.
Soon, we expect, it will be commonplace that a woman will hold any political office. And that is the way it should be. Women are more than half of the country’s population and more than half of its registered voters. Why shouldn’t they be more than half of our elected leaders?
The same changes are true in the business world, and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating with “S.H.E. Week.”
“It stands for strength, heart and equality,” Jennifer Gerlock, vice president of marketing and communication for the chamber, told News-Post reporter Hannah Himes. “Last year we were focusing on equality, so Women’s Equality Day and then we … had all of these great ideas that came around it and so it became a week of events.”
Because of the pandemic, S.H.E. Week 2020 is all virtual and runs from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28. It features eight sessions, five live and three prerecorded. More than 200 people are participating, but you still have time to register for individual sessions. It is the second year the chamber is hosting the event, which sold out last year.
“We had to expand our capacity with a lot of the different programming, so we decided to replicate that again this year,” Gerlock said. “Of course, now this is a historic year for women with voting and the 100th anniversary [of the 19th amendment] so we thought, ‘we can’t just skip the year because we all can’t meet in person.’”
Here at The News-Post, we are doing our part to recognize and honor the achievements of women in our community by creating a series of stories on Women of Influence.
Throughout its history, Frederick County has been home to many women who were influential and inspirational, characteristics that gave them the power to change our world.
We are telling the stories of women who work in business, politics, government and serve our community. They are the trailblazers showing the way forward to the women leaders of tomorrow.
Join us in celebrating women this week, recognizing past accomplishments, and anticipating the bright future.