Basic Rights Were Denied To My Mother And Grandmother

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Photo by Kristen Coffield
L to R: Joy Kilbourn, Jessie Joy Cousins, Heather Lee, Joy Coffield, Jessie Joy Coffield
L to R: Joy Kilbourn, Jessie Joy Cousins, Heather Lee, Joy Coffield, Jessie Joy Coffield

There is one essential thing every woman in America can do to leave the world a better place.


Exercise the right to vote. Never take the HARD-WON privilege of voting for granted. 


A hundred years ago, women did not have equal rights and couldn't vote in America. Put your seat belt on because women still do not have complete constitutional equality in our democratic nation. It would be a mistake to think that the rights we currently enjoy are a given.


My mother was one of the original independent women. She was a divorced single mother living in a small town and running her own business. Being a divorcee in 1964 was uncommon and slightly scandalous. My amazing mother experienced all sorts of discrimination in both her business and personal life. Her divorce left her with financial challenges, and she had no choice but to support her little family. The legal system favored men. She told me her lawyer said, "don't worry when it comes time for college Don will take care of the girls." Needless to say, that didn't happen. But my mother didn't let that stop her. She worked hard, fought for what was right for her and her daughters, and helped build a better world for my sister and me.

Kristen Coffield (Photo by: Kristen Coffield) Kristen Coffield


I remember my mother saying something that has stuck with me over the years. She noted that many of the women in our town would vote how their husbands encouraged them to vote. "Kristen," she said, "when you vote, it is only you in the voting booth. Do what feels right". 


It's worth remembering that it was only a few decades ago that women were denied access to contraceptives, which only became a right in 1972. Or that a woman could be disqualified for a job if she had preschool-age children up until 1971. And it was only in 1974 that a woman could have a credit card in her name.


This is the year we need to pay attention to our constitutional rights. Not get sucked into the many distractions designed to obscure and distract. Instead, take a bird's eye view of the constitutional issues on the table and understand how they could potentially widen the inequality gap between men and women in our country for decades to come. 


I want to ensure my daughters and their daughters will enjoy all the rights and privileges that women have fought long and hard for. I voted this week. It's time to do the right thing.