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‘We Can’t Sit on the Sidelines’

Anniversary of the 19th Amendment is a reminder of the importance of women’s vote

By Jennifer Bulat

The United States recently marked 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Unfortunately, in the 2018 election, a shocking amount of the 118 million women who were eligible to vote — 40% — chose not to.

As the presidential election approaches in November, it’s critical that women cast their vote, said Joan Toth, a senior consultant in diversity and inclusion for ExecuInsight LLC, during a radio program celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment.

“Women are going to decide this election. We can’t sit on the sidelines,” said Toth, who is on the board of Gender Fair, which measures companies on the metrics of gender leadership. She also was the founding executive director and then president and CEO of Network of Executive Women (NEW).

“It’s so critical that we get out the vote,” she said, underscoring the importance of organizations such as Tag 10 Women Vote. It asks women to vote in the national election and then tag 10 more women to do so on or by Nov. 3. The group also promotes women’s leadership. Its website says, “Our goal is to build a national community of women supporting and empowering other women in order to increase the number of women in leadership by half within this decade.”

White women still make only 79 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Toth pointed out. For women who are minorities, that figure is even lower. “The pay gap has to close,” she said.

“This election is too important and too much of a referendum for so many issues that are important to so many women,” Toth said.

‘Sleeping Giant’

The program, which opened with the beginning of the Dolly Parton suffrage anthem “A Woman’s Right,” was hosted by Marcia Macomber, a podcast producer and host of Wine Women Radio Hour, on KSVY 91.3 in Sonoma, California. It was put together in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920. With the amendment’s passage, 27 million women became eligible to vote.

Despite the victory, Macomber pointed out, those women were mostly white women. It didn’t include African American, Latina or Chinese American women. That was not remedied until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which barred racial discrimination in voting. And yet discrimination still happens today through methods such as onerous voter ID laws.

The program’s speakers comprised many women leaders, including educators, activists and representatives from the local Sonoma government.

Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, a Colombian American who has worked to build a bridge between cultures in the Sonoma community, said it’s critically important that Latinos — especially women — vote in the upcoming election and make their voices heard.

“The sleeping giant is the Latino vote,” said Mendoza-Carruth, whose company, MC(2) Multicultural Communications, provides translation and interpretation services to clients mainly in the wine industry, plus the public policy, medical and government fields. She also is a former president of La Luz Center, which works to build a bridge to the Latino community.

Macomber asked Mendoza-Carruth what message she would have for women who are hesitating to register and to vote.

“The moment you vote, that gives you a voice,” she said.

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