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For the past eight months, our It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign has done everything possible to inspire young women to vote on November 6. With just one day left in the final countdown to Election Day, we want to share with you our favorite inspirational posts from our campaign’s Tumblr. Share them with someone who might need motivation to vote!

  1. Fair pay e-cards

    When we saw the latest wage gap numbers a few months ago, we knew young women would care that women still typically get paid 77 cents for every dollar a man gets paid. So we came up with some snarky e-cards to remind folks that the fight for fair pay isn’t done — and this November could make all the difference.
  2. Facebook cover photos

    If the young women of America are anything like us, we’d bet that they love Facebook and pictures of kittens. We merged the two with a virtual voting billboard that can be easily uploaded on Facebook. It’s easy to change your cover photo, which is a great way to tell your Facebook friends that you’re voting.
  3. Sandra Fluke’s pep talk for voters

    Personal stories are motivational. And when those stories come from people like Sandra Fluke — a NCCWSL Woman of Distinction and AAUW friend who became famous for being a strong advocate for birth control access — they’re even more powerful. So it was no surprise that Fluke’s It’s My Vote pep talk was our most popular. In the video, she tells the story of a poll worker who remembered her from the previous election. So few young people had voted that Fluke stuck out at the polls. There’s too much at stake in this election for young women to not show up, and Fluke’s video drives that point home.
  4. “Speak up, show up” graphic

    If you’re on Facebook, you may know a few wannabe pundits who are constantly on their soapboxes. We’re all for people speaking their minds. But if Election Day isn’t part of speaking out, what’s the point? That was the motivation behind this graphic — a visual reminder of who listens to those who don’t vote.
  5. Liza Donnelly’s pep talk for voters

    It’s no surprise that the second most popular pep talk we made was from another NCCWSL Woman of Distinction: Liza Donnelly. I have to agree with the crowd on this one. I’ve watched every single pep talk our campaign has, and Donnelly’s always stands out. Watch it yourself to see why.

Of course, no image, video, or graphic is as powerful as a personal phone call. Take the time today to make sure the young women in your life are voting. Lilly Ledbetter can tell you how. And make sure you have everything you need to vote. The AAUW Action Fund has voter resources that cover polling places, voter-ID laws, and anything else you’ll need for tomorrow.

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The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

A young woman walks into her polling place to vote — only she’s missing her identification card. She might not be allowed to cast her ballot.

But the poll worker gives her a pass. He remembers her from the primary election, when so few young people showed up to vote.

Sandra Fluke tells this true and personal story in her pep talk for the AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign. Her tale rings especially true this election, a time when young women need to raise their voices and vote. Fluke also reminds us to research the voter-ID requirements before showing up to the polls this November 6 — a sentiment echoed by AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, who gave voters her own pep talk last week.

WATCH:

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Lilly Ledbetter delivers Keynote at NCCWSL 2012Feminism has always been criticized as being preoccupied with advancing the interests of white, educated, middle-class women. While most women’s groups now take action on everything from racism to marriage equality to social security, the rhetoric of equal pay has at least the potential to emphasize the paychecks of the mostly white women at the top — even though a pay gap clearly exists between men and women in nearly every line of work and at every educational level.

So it’s a good thing that the equal-pay movement has been reignited by a woman who can inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Lilly Ledbetter worked her way up the ladder at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and risked everything to file a pay discrimination lawsuit after an anonymous note tipped her off that she was being paid 40 percent less than her male peers were. She was doing the same job and had earned a top performance award at the company.

Last week, Ledbetter shared her frustrating story with the nearly 600 students at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and her message helped inspire these up-and-coming workers to fight for pay equity as they begin their careers.

The audience was moved by Ledbetter’s clear-cut case and the heart-wrenchingly unjust Supreme Court decision that followed it — which said she should have filed her pay discrimination suit 18 years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly. A jury trial had previously awarded her damages and back pay, but Ledbetter never received a dime.

In her keynote address, Ledbetter told the audience that she grew up in one of the poorest counties in Alabama. Even though she was a manager at Goodyear, she and her husband struggled to pay the bills; the wages she lost to discrimination would have made a huge difference in their lives. Now, in her work as an equal-pay advocate, Ledbetter speaks passionately about the drastic effects the pay gap has on families like hers. Often, she says, it determines “whether they can buy food, pay the mortgage, and keep healthy.”

Ledbetter is one of many women who have stood up against industry giants to fight lengthy, expensive legal battles for equity in their hourly wages. Her words inspired the college women in the audience to fight for their own and all working women’s pay equity.

In the question-and-answer session afterward, conference-goers said they were touched by Ledbetter’s story, and one even called her a “rock star.” When they asked what they could do to help others and themselves, Ledbetter had a simple answer: Stand up for yourself, stay informed, and vote.

She urged the students to learn how to negotiate their salaries, because “if you don’t start now, you’ll never catch up.” But she also stressed the need to stay informed about local and national wage laws and the voting records of politicians — especially on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

“If the Paycheck Fairness Act had been law back then, I would have known how much less I was getting paid,” Ledbetter said.

Often called the “face of pay equity,” Ledbetter does more than show the human impact of the pay gap’s national statistics — that women make, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar men earn (the average is even lower for black women and Latinas). Her story and others like it refute the myth that the only thing separating men’s and women’s wages is hard work. These stories also show how working women — young and old, with and without diplomas, of any ethnic background — can unite to fight for the pay equity we all deserve.

That unity is further embodied in Ledbetter’s continued advocacy, even though she can no longer benefit from the laws she’s advocating for. “I made a decision in 1998 to stand up for myself. … My journey since then has been for you. Since that ruling came down, my case was over. If I can say something today that will change you in the audience, my goal will have been met.”

After her speech, Ledbetter left with hundreds of new fans who, thanks to her trailblazing, are that much closer to having what the president described when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009 — that is, to having no limits to their dreams.

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“I’m writing again, I’m living again,

I’m [inhale] breathing again.”

Mayda del Valle left her audience in awe after she performed “The Gift” on Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry. As a spoken word performer, I too was left amazed. The feeling of getting on the stage and pouring out every feeling is always amazing — even better is having the audience connect with and feel what you’re talking about. It is something every artist looks forward to. Del Valle did just that — she used her words to captivate the audience, tell her story, and leave her mark. I must admit that I reached for my pen and started writing after I saw her performance.

Midway through her act, I came to realize how the beauty of words can inspire people, and del Valle has a way with her words. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and began performing her work during her high school years. It wasn’t until she relocated to New York City in 2000 that she began performing competitively. A regular at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, del Valle won four out of her first five slams. The rest is history! In 2009, she even performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and she continues to perform today.

The most inspiring part of del Valle’s story is that she has taken her passions for writing and performing and used them to encourage her community. She went on a spoken word tour with Norman Lear’s Declare Yourself, which encourages young people to register to vote. Thanks to her experiences as a woman growing up in a diverse neighborhood under the influence of hip-hop music, del Valle is able to relate to women from different backgrounds.

I am truly excited that del Valle will be a keynote speaker at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. I am looking forward to her performance and anticipating the ways in which she will use her words to inspire everyone in the room. She is sure to leave the audience transformed and ready to lead.

Have you ever used your words to lead?

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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Many organizations, including AAUW, sing the praises of mentoring and all the great things it can do for women. And rightly so — mentoring can help women learn negotiating skills, break into certain professions, and understand how to navigate different situations.

Taking advantage of mentoring opportunities in professional organizations and in the workplace is an effective way to both find and become a mentor, but these opportunities can also be found in another place — within your own family.

Mentoring can start with your sister, cousin, or friend. Many of us have women in our lives to whom we are already very close who could use a role model and a mentor. Remember not to overlook the women right under your nose. You can teach the young women you already know about sexual harassment at school; inspire them to go into science, technology, engineering, and math fields; encourage them to run for student government; and educate them — long before they are 18 — about the importance of voting.

After learning about how valuable mentoring can be to women’s future successes, I began to mentor my cousin’s daughter, Jadine. Although she is only 3 years old, I take every opportunity I have to tell her how smart she is and that she is going to do amazing things with her life — and one day become an AAUW member like me!

Though I joke with my family that I am trying to turn her into a “mini-me,” I do truly hope that I can use my successes and strengths to give her more opportunities. I want her to be a feminist, go to college, speak her mind, and have self-confidence. I also want to help her avoid the difficulties I have faced and reassure her that I will always be there to support her and advocate for her.

As her mentor, not only do I look forward to helping with homework, assisting with her college search, and giving her connections in the workforce, I also plan to teach her about how politics affect her, how to combat discrimination, and how important it is to help others. I look forward to seeing her mentoring her younger cousins later!

Of course, women should continue to mentor their colleagues, local students, and community members, but do not forget about the women closest to you who could also benefit from your guidance and knowledge.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Samantha Abril.

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Women’s Equality Day commemorates passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants all women the right to vote. Growing up in the D.C. metro area, I wasn’t interested in politics. But I do remember my great-grandmother, grandparents, and parents taking me with them to the polls. We stood in line, which seemed like forever, and took our turn going behind the curtain to pull the levers. I used to think it was a game. I tried to pull one once and got my hand popped for that. I did not understand then what it all really meant.

I was 18 when I had my first chance to vote, and I have voted consistently ever since. I admit, however, I never thought about how I got the right to vote. Talking with my mom, she reminded me that I am the great-granddaughter of Harvey Taylor, a child of freed slaves who signed his name with an X. She told me his stories about “literacy tests” for black voters and her experiences with segregation and watching her parents vote. My mother was in college in 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was signed.

My mother let me make up my own mind about selecting political parties and candidates, but she was always adamant about me voting. She says, “You are representing all those that could not vote before you. Make your voice heard.”

Today, it brings me great joy to see generations talking about the future while not forgetting our past. Still, there are too many eligible female voters who feel disenfranchised and are not casting their ballots on election day. Everyone has the right to make their voices heard.

So to those who came before me and fought for suffrage, I say thank you. Every time I vote, I represent Bella Abzug, Mary Church Terrell, Alice Paul, Frederick Douglass, Shirley Chisholm, Brenda Dixon (my mom), and Harvey Taylor (my great-grandfather).  And I make my voice heard.

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In October, Berkeley, California, will see a blast from the past in the form of early 20th-century suffragists. In celebration of the centennial of women gaining the right to vote in California, a parade will march down the streets of Berkeley. This is just one of the many events the California Women Suffrage Committee and their community partners are planning to celebrate this occasion.

While various organizations in Berkeley celebrate women’s suffrage every year, this year will be different. In order to make it a memorable event, various groups have joined together to organize a major celebration that includes a costume parade, exhibits at the California Museum, and a celebration in Sacramento. The purpose of this centennial celebration is not only to honor the suffragists who fought for the vote but also to encourage women and men to remember the struggle for civil rights in this country.

When the AAUW Berkeley (CA) Branch asked me to participate in these activities, I was both honored and surprised that it had been 100 years since women gained the vote in the state. Like many young women of my generation, I have come to take some of my civil rights for granted. In my mind and in the minds of many young women, voting is something that we have always had, and it is hard to picture being denied that right. We forget our fellow women who fought so hard for the right to be represented in government, the right to have a voice in our country.

Remembering the victories and defeats of feminists before us is important because it reminds us that there is still work to be done in the area of gender equality. The struggle for suffrage is a major part of women’s history in the United States, but it is often excluded from the history books. The history of women must be celebrated and remembered so that generations to come can feel encouraged to continue forward in the fight against inequality.

When women in 2011 march down Solano Avenue in Berkeley wearing the classic suffragette attire, it will not only be a reenactment of a piece of history but also a tribute to a period in women’s history that should never be forgotten.

This post was written by AAUW National Student Advisory Council member Anita Botello-Santoyo.

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