Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, joined some of San Francisco’s top female leaders last Monday for a rally to celebrate Women’s Equality Day.
The rally, held on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, honored the women’s suffrage movement and the 99th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
“It took 70 years for the suffragettes to get the right to vote for women,” Speier said Aug. 26. “They marched in the streets, they went on hunger fasts, they went to jail for the simple idea that women should have the right to vote.”
But women’s rights are still under attack, Speier said, as a slew of states recently passed laws restricting access to abortions. Those states include Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi.
“There’s really a lot at stake here,” she said.
San Francisco Recorder-Assessor Carmen Chu said, “In the U.S. we’ve come a long way in terms of getting women the right to vote, fighting for the right to vote. We’ve come a long way in terms of seeing better representation than we’ve had before. But I think many of us know that we still have a very, very long way to go.
“I encourage you today to not only take on this idea of women’s equality seriously to encourage women to vote and to participate, but to make sure that you continue to also spread your knowledge,” she said.
Outgoing Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who became the city’s first female sheriff in 2016, said that she and other female leaders at the rally got their positions, in part, because of female voters.
“This happened because women voted. My mother voted, my friends, my sisters voted, and they liked what they saw: strong female leaders who work collaboratively and make things happen,” she said.
Hennessy then encouraged the crowd to honor the women’s suffrage movement by making sure that their friends and family were registered to vote.
“Voting is a pathway to becoming a world where we have an equal say,” she said.
Last year, city leaders launched the W Challenge in honor of Women’s Equality Day, creating a challenge each year to encourage women to act. This year’s challenge, in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library, seeks to have women read books written by other women.