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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

Inez Milholland was called the "Joan of Arc" of the suffrage movement for the many years of her life she worked to secure the right to vote for women in the United States. She rode a white horse leading more than 8,000 marchers at the head of the March 3, 1913, suffrage parade the day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration, while marchers were jeered, tripped and subjected to verbal violence. This 60-year saga challenged the courage and perseverance of thousands.

Today Inez Milholland would be busy addressing hundreds of sexist concerns around the world. She would be in many African countries calling for an end to genital mutilation of child brides, and travel to Pakistan and other Muslim countries to call for an end to honor killings of young women. I am certain she would travel to countries that deny education to girls and call for an end to the practice that keeps women in poverty, subjected to cruel treatment. According to UNICEF an estimated 31 million girls of lower secondary school age and 32 million girls of secondary school age were out of school in recent years.

In the United States, Inez would focus on the issue of domestic violence because one in four women will suffer physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner, while often an unresponsive court system will only recommend counseling, as in the case of professional football player, Ray Rice. An equally daunting statistic indicates that one in five women will be raped in her lifetime. Finally, she will call for equal pay for equal work.

Inez would also celebrate the progress made for women and girls. More women are enrolled in colleges in the United States than men. Three women serve on the Supreme Court, in stark contrast to a time when women were not allowed to serve on juries. Title IX has afforded women the opportunity to participate in college sports with adequate funding, enabling them to move on in professional careers in sports.

March is a good month to thank all of the Inez Milhollands who work hard today to remove the glass ceiling, providing women every opportunity to use their talent for a world in need.

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