Ms. Magazine Blog just posted a series of vintage postcards from the National American Women's Suffragette Association. The postcards were meant simplify the aims of the organization into a series of pithy one-liners. The 1916 postcard featured above is my favorite because of how cool and bossy this little girl appears in her stance and speech while the little boy seems shrunken and somewhat dumbfounded. She's telling him! Let me clarify, though, that I don't believe that suffrage rights or feminism should subordinate men in any way. I still find great humor in this postcard. I think this quote also included in the post, says it best:
"WOMAN should not condemn MAN because she has not the right of franchise–rather condemn parents for having trained their sons since the beginning of time, in the belief that MAN only is competent to vote."
That's right. Always blame the parents.
I cannot believe that women won the right to vote less than a hundred years ago. Ninety years to be exact (August 26, 1920). My grandmother lived in a time when women did not have the right to vote. There are still several countries today that restrict or qualify how women can vote. Most notably, Saudi Arabia, with whom the US has always maintained close ties despite the Middle Eastern country's subordination of women. Bhutan only allows one vote per household and in Lebanon only women with an elementary education are allowed to vote (there are no restrictions for men). For more information on global suffrage, see the CIA's World Factbook.
As for women leaders, we have made huge strides, but there is still a long road to traverse until we become equal contenders in the political arena, especially and, maybe surprisingly, in the First World. Sure, the US has Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi as high-ranking officials and Germany has Angela Merkel as a president, but look at developing countries like Liberia with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf or India's President Pratibha Patil. How is it possible that these places, where women often have less rights and opportunities, are able to elect women leaders so easily? I find it ironic firstly, but also, fascinating that these traditional cultures are so open-minded.
I don't believe in voting for a woman just because of her gender. I always vote for the individual regardless of their race and gender. In the 2008 presidential election, I did not feel that Hilary Clinton was the right person for the job in 2008. And while I am here, I will say that being a woman should NEVER give Sarah Palin the right to say the word "president" let alone ever consider running for that office (or any other office for that matter). Sarah Palin irks me to no end because she abuses her position of power and influence and just makes women look stupid (and I think she does this on purpose).
Several global organizations exist to promote the inclusion of women in politics, especially in developing countries. Once such program is run by the Hunt Alternatives Fund, the non-profit of Swanee Hunt, former Ambassador to Austria during the Clinton Administration, who has made an indelible mark in current international affairs. The Institute for Inclusive Security works to advocate for fair and just representation for all stakeholders in a nation, which often means supporting the role of women in politics in nations around the world.
In sum, I think the above postcard was ahead of its time and its architects would be proud of the progress around female leadership while still encouraging us to be even better, more assertive, and more accepting as we strive to make this world a better place for everyone.
What are your thoughts? Do we have more female leadership than we think? Or is there still a long way to go?