Visitors to the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington learn about the U.S. suffrage movement. After viewing the exhibits, they interact with museum staff and learn surprising facts about the continuing struggle for gender equality.

And the staff learns from the visitors, says Executive Director Page Harrington. Case in point: Fathers “are extremely interested in equality because they want everything that is best for their daughters. … They are some of our most fervent supporters.”

Women’s rights activists march in New York in 1970. (© AP Images)

“Fathers today,” Harrington continues, “want their daughter to be able to do whatever she wants to do and whatever she can excel at … independent of a spouse or anyone else.”

Harrington says that younger museum patrons and international guests are inspired when they realize how much progress American women have made since winning the right to vote in 1920.

“That gives me hope for moving forward,” they tell Harrington.

A focus on women’s issues

International Women’s Day is an occasion to mark women’s progress and to focus on helping them achieve parity with men in economic and educational opportunity, including equal pay, political participation and health. It’s observed every March 8, and this year’s theme is #pledgeforparity.

Harrington views it as a time to bring women’s issues into focus. “Celebrations like this don’t dismiss the disparity and they don’t dismiss the fact that we still have a long way to go, but they do shine a spotlight on it. It’s nice to be able to say jointly: ‘Let’s celebrate women today. Let’s celebrate what women have achieved.'”