March is Women’s History Month. For all of the incredible accomplishments and contributions that women have made, often under terrible circumstances, to the betterment of society, working folks take this month to remember the women behind two of the most important laws put in place during the 20th century. These laws protect you every day.
(Photo Credit: Kheel Center, Cornell University/Flickr)
We remember the great abolitionist and founder of the women’s right movement Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments, including the historic words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” She argued forcefully for women’s right to vote until her death in 1902. This right was passed by Congress in 1919 and ratifed in 1920, almost 20 years after her death.
Working folk must not forget the great achievements of Frances Perkins and Mother Jones.
Social Security Act of 1935
Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the United States, and this nation’s longest-serving Secretary of Labor. She was instrumental in crafting laws under President Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” She is best know for being the chief architect of the Social Security Act, which continues to keep retired workers out of poverty today. President Roosevelt called her accomplishment “the cornerstone of his administration.”
Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was fearless. In her time, she organized workers, women, and minorities to protest and strike for appropriate treatment and working conditions. She travelled around this country during the last quarter century of her life fighting battles against class warfare and in an attempt to bring the working and poorer classes out of poverty and powerlessness. She is perhaps best known for her efforts at abolishing child labor. She once led hundreds of children on a march from the mills of Penssylvania to the home of President Theodore Roosevelt in Long Island, New York. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which includes prohibition against child labor and protections against discrimination for workers.
Newt Gringrich made headlines in 2011 for calling child labor laws “truly stupid.” Too bad Mother Jones is no longer among us to give him the response he deserves.
Tell Us What You Think
Who do you remember during Women’s History Month, and what benefits do you enjoy today as a result of Mother Jones and Frances Perkins? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.