It’s that time of year again. The time when our attention turns to turkey, dressing, all the fixins, and reflection on being thankful for our many blessings.
There is no doubt that we all have much to be thankful for.
As I reflect on the life I’ve had, I know that God has blessed me greatly.
When I sat down to write this Thanksgiving column, I began to consider all the history that occurred which made it possible for me, as a woman, to become a journalist.
Women in this country have not always enjoyed life as we know it today. The simple act of voting involved an uphill battle.
The reasons that were presented for not allowing women to vote ranged from laughable to insulting.
Sir James Grant complained that men were already controlled and worried enough by women and he saw no reason to alter the present state of affairs.
One great speaker believed that if women couldn’t defend the nation through physical force, then they shouldn’t be allowed to determine its policies.
Still another suggested that mental exertion could jeopardize a woman’s reproductive health. He claimed that too much thinking would make a woman become infertile and not be suitable for marriage.
Even with all that astounding information, we were eventually allowed to vote.
On August 18, 1920 white women were given the right to vote. Asian, Native American and Black women would have to wait until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
American women have long fought for equality throughout our nation’s history and much progress has been made.
In 1776, Abigail Adams made a plea to her husband, John Adams to “remember the ladies and be more generous to them than your ancestors.” She also cautioned him that if women were left out of the decision- making process, they may rebel against laws in which they had no voice or representation.
Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B Anthony partnered to fight for women’s right to vote and the right to seek higher education in 1848.
The first minimum wage law was passed in 1912. It was written to help 15,000 women who were facing severe poverty and were earning low wages for long hours of work.
John F Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963. It prohibited sex-based wage discrimination between men and women performing the same job.
In 1972 Richard Nixon signed the Title IX Education Amendment, ensuring that no person in the United States should be excluded from participation in any educational program or activity based on gender.
Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. Sally was insistent that she be considered for the job based solely on her merits. She said it was important to her that the bar was as high for her as it was for the men being considered.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has served on the United States Supreme Court since 1993. As a young lawyer, Ginsburg fought laws that discriminated based on gender.
In 2013 the United States military removed the ban on women in combat.
Women in other countries have not been as fortunate.
There are 32 countries where women still need their husband’s permission to apply for a passport. In Israel, a woman needs her husband’s permission to get a divorce. Saudia Arabia still doesn’t allow women to drive. Egyptian law says a woman cannot leave her home without her husband’s permission or she loses the right to financial support. A Nigerian husband is permitted to hit his wife for the purposes of “correcting her.”
The second part of my thankful equation is the freedoms this country has regarding journalism.
Freedom House recently reported that only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press where news coverage is uncensored by the government and the safety of journalists is guaranteed.
It was appalling to learn that 34 journalists worldwide were murdered last year for simply doing their jobs.
In several countries, internet access is restricted, and cell phones are banned. In one country, all 12 major newspapers contain only government approved content.
Journalists have been abducted, held captive and even killed by forces loyal to the government in Syria.
The first amendment to the United States constitution guarantees freedom of the press with a right to publish opinions without government censorship.
Publishing was a male-dominated industry when I chose to become a newspaper publisher.
Without the efforts of determined crusaders to establish equality in all areas and a country that believes in a free press, my choice would not have been a possibility.
Realizing the struggles that preceded me, I am humbled and thankful to live in a country where a woman has the freedom the write her opinions.