YWCA has a long history of being on the front line of pushing for gender equity in our community. In honor of Women's History Month, we're highlighting a few of the major milestones of that work here in Washington state.

Government-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of gender is part of the founding story of YWCA, as we were formed from the necessity of combating injustices and inequalities experienced by women. Over time, our focus and inclusivity has grown in how we advance the cause of gender equity and who we include in it. In the earliest years, our focus was explicitly limited to the role of White women in American society. Today, eliminating racism is a co-equal pillar of our mission alongside empowering women.

For Washington women, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish has played an important role as a leader in pushing for the end of gender discrimination both by private companies and our governments.

1909 Women’s Suffrage Giving white women the right to vote YWCA hosted a restaurant and pavilion at the Seattle Alaskan Yukon Pacific Exposition, where lectures and organizing meetings were held on winning the right to vote for white women as part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention held in Seattle. The suffragettes built power for the movement to expand voting rights in Washington with particular appeals to the women who had already had those rights while Washington was a US territory.  1973 Equal Rights Amendment Enshrining equality into the constitution The Equal Rights Amendment, which reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” was passed by congress in 1972. YWCA organized demonstrations and pressure campaigns on lawmakers to pass Washington State’s ratification of the ERA. Although it passed in Washington in 1973, today the ERA still needs one final state to ratify it before becoming law.  2018 Equal Pay Opportunity Act Making equal pay a reality for Washington women The Equal Pay Opportunity Act banned salary secrecy, giving all employees the ability to know if they're being paid fairly, as well as requiring that employees in comparable positions are offered the same training and advancement opportunities. YWCA's active advocacy for this Act was borne from the understanding that formal legal equality isn't enough when information is suppressed through the power dynamics of the workplace.

The fight for gender equity is far from over, and we are advancing our advocacy today in areas like transgender and reproductive rights. In 2018, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA, putting the nation one state away from the three-quarters majority needed for full ratification. By reflecting on our journey in combatting misogyny, we find lessons and strength for our current and future work to secure a better future for all women.

To learn more and celebrate all of the ways YWCA has fought for gender equity in our 125 year history, come join us at our YWCA Inspire Luncheons!

Eric Bronson

Eric Bronson is the Digital Advocacy and Engagement Manager at YWCA. He manages the Firesteel blog in addition to its social media streams and action initiatives. A graduate of Oberlin College, Eric focuses on the intersection of race and gender within the American political economy.


We tell the stories of those with lived experiences of racism and sexism and invite supporters to take concrete actions to correct the root causes of disparity in our communities.

Blog Categories
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:15
Written By