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Women can get choked up, thinking about the sacrifices of time, effort, family and reputation made by their predecessors who for more than a half-century worked to get that all-important equalizer between men and women - the vote.

But it's not a tearful kind of choking feeling. For some, it's a feeling of frustration. It's the same feeling, on a different level, that black Americans must experience, thinking about slavery. To be disenfranchised is to be in bondage.How unfair to have treated more than half the population as if their gender rendered them incapable of making sound decisions about public policies and public servants. And how arrogant in view of male voters' anything but impressive record on this score. In fact, much history is simply a record of human folly - more often than not, male folly.

Finally getting the vote meant more than just being able to cast a ballot in elections. It meant power - and power was something women had not experienced before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was quietly signed into law Aug. 26, 1920.

Since before history was recorded, women were less than second-class citizens. They weren't citizens at all. They were forced to live by laws created and enforced by men and over which they had no control.

The anniversary of women's suffrage is a bittersweet occasion for women as they look back at 72 years of determined and sometimes violent struggle and 56 referendums before men finally recognized that women had the intellectual ability to make a decision for themselves.

In the past 75 years, women have had to continue struggling to be taken seriously - politically, socially and professionally. It took another 40 years before women were granted property rights and could get bank loans. In some cases, they still haven't entirely caught up in hiring, promotions and pay.

But women can look back at years of progress and ahead to further accomplishments.

Politically, women have won battles in the past 10 years. There are more women holding elective office than ever before throughout the country.

In Utah, the second territory in the nation to give women the vote - nearly 40 years before passage of the 19th Amendment - women are making great strides.

Utah currently has two women holding statewide office for the first time - Olene Walker as lieutenant governor and Jan Graham as attorney general. Salt Lake City has its first female mayor in Deedee Corradini, and Enid Waldholtz is the third Utah woman to sit in Congress, succeeding Karen Shepherd. Reva Beck Bosone served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the late '40s.

Gov. Mike Leavitt has appointed numerous women to head state agencies and departments. Cecelia Foxley is Utah's first female commissioner of higher education. Though Utah has never had a female president of a state-operated institution of higher education, Peggy Stock was inaugurated as president of the private Westminster College in June.

Women in all parts of the workplace are gaining respect and moving into every kind of supervisory and professional post.

Without the extraordinary efforts of those early suffragists, none of these women would hold leadership positions in the '90s. And, without the exemplary work being done quietly, calmly and competently by these female pioneers, their daughters would not enjoy the opportunities they doubtless will have in coming decades.

Women sometimes feel frustration that the struggle has to be so hard, so bitter and seemingly never-ending. But they also feel the pride of having accomplished much against overwhelming obstacles.

But, like the women who stayed home in droves during the first election in which they could vote, some women today still fear appearing aggressive or fail to see the link between voting and making progress in areas such as literacy and equal pay.

Some are still intimidated by power - their own.

But women are increasingly using the political power their votes wield to affect changes in their own lives and their daughters' lives. Who knows what could lie ahead for women and the world in the next 75 years?