August 18th is a significant date as it commemorates the 103rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which recognized women’s right to vote. This historic milestone honors the legacy of the fight for women’s suffrage, gender equality and the political participation of women in general, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the current impact of voting for Latina women in the country.
The search for the right to vote for women in the United States has been a path marked by the struggle, tireless work, and sacrifice of prominent activists such as Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, who are living memories of the suffrage movement.
The road to women’s suffrage had key moments that led to the achievement of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 marked the beginning of the battle for women’s suffrage, and from then on, various activist-led organizations rose up across the United States.
However, it is worth noting that although the amendment guaranteed the right to vote for women, it did not address the discrimination faced by women of color. It was not until 1967 that women of color were able to exercise their right to vote in the United States, after an arduous struggle that culminated in the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
The power of Latina women in elections
Currently, the female vote, especially that of Latina women, has a significant impact in the presidential elections of the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2021 there were approximately 62.5 million Hispanics in the United States, which represents about 19% of the total population. Four out of five Hispanics/Latinos have citizenship, which enables them to exercise their right to vote.
The activism of Latina women in the exercise of the vote is remarkable, María Teresa Kumar and Julissa Arce are contemporary voices that promote the political participation of women and women’s suffrage.
According to the 2016 CUNY/CNN study, Hispanic women voted in higher proportions than men in all presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, with voter turnout ranging from 53% to 55% of total Hispanic voters. In addition, Latina women register to vote and vote in greater numbers than Hispanic men, with a difference of 3 percentage points in the two cases, between 1992 and 2012, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
What issues are a priority for Latinas?
The priority issues for Latina women in the United States cover a wide range of concerns. Among them are immigration, education, access to health care, gender equality, child care, security and justice, economic equality and the environment. These issues are affected by gender bias, racism, intersectional discrimination, and other factors that influence the female vote and its impact on politics.
It is vital that Latina women become involved and actively participate in the political process. There are various ways to do this, such as becoming digitally active, educating yourself about the Sustainable Development Goals, attending workshops and political events, leading spaces for dialogue, promoting diversity and inclusion, and participating as volunteers in political campaigns of candidates who support your interests.
Honoring and valuing the work of Latina women who are in political spaces is another way to encourage their participation. Following prominent figures such as Verónica Escobar, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Nydia Velázquez and Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez contributes to making their work visible and opening opportunities for more women in politics.
How can you help more people exercise their right to vote?
One way to get involved and participate is by knowing the current movements and actions at your fingertips, here you will find some that you can investigate further and choose from:
- Get digitally active. Take the #HeForShe movement as a reference and look for digital movements that resonate with you.
- Educate yourself. Learn more about the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of its primary objectives is to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women.
- Attend workshops, talks and events that address the electoral processes in your community.
- Locate awareness campaigns in your community about the importance of voting and how it can influence the policies that affect you.
- Lead dialogue spaces with the people you meet, forums, reading clubs, among others. Remember to generate spaces so that those who have children in the infant stage can attend.
- If you are in a position to grant or receive mentoring, do it, fostering leadership among Latina women has an unimaginable significance.
- Speak out. Get involved in issues that you consider relevant for your own well-being, that of your family and community. When sharing information, make sure it is verified.
- Be a promoter of diversity and inclusion. Support Latina candidates for public office and support them to connect with policies that address the most urgent needs of the Latino community.
- Get up to date. Learn new tech skills to reach more women, especially from generations other than yours.
- Find out. In the United States, the minimum age for a person to vote is 18 years. Register to vote, research the candidates and seek an informed vote.
- You can volunteer in the political campaigns of female candidates who support and represent your interests.
The vote of Latina women is a powerful instrument of change and political participation in the United States. Although great achievements have been made since the Seneca Falls Declaration, it is important to continue working for women’s political rights and to remember that every little effort counts to build a more inclusive and representative society.
The political participation of women is essential to strengthen democracy and promote gender equality in the nation.