COLUMBIA -- Inez Tenenbaum, one of only three women elected to statewide office in South Carolina, is calling on more women to fill the ballot.

Her entreaty coincides with Women's Equality Day, which marks the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote and the creation of the League of Women Voters in 1920. To celebrate the landmark, Tenenbaum will headline a dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday in Charleston.

Tenenbaum's address, "A Time to Lead: Inspiring Women to Pursue Public Service," will highlight the achievements of women as principals, bank presidents, ranking law enforcement officers and judges, and ask women to break more barriers in public office and step into the "rough and tumble world of politics."

South Carolina lags behind the nation in the number of women in elected positions. The state has no women serving in Congress and has the lowest percentage of women in any state legislature. No women serve in the state Senate.

Efforts are under way to change that trend. For example, the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics will provide the next governor with a list of qualified women to serve on boards and commissions and head government agencies.

Tenenbaum served as state superintendent of education until 2007, capping eight years of service. She is chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, having been selected by President Barack Obama.

The anniversaries of the 19th Amendment and the founding of the League of Women Voters is a time to remember how far women have come, Tenenbaum said. The country's forefathers had the wisdom to create a nation built on individual liberty and a separation of powers but failed to see the injustices of slavery and women's oppression, she said.

"It's hard to imagine both of those concepts being allowed," Tenenbaum said.

Mary Horres, president of the League of Women Voters of the Charleston area, said the dinner will honor eight Elected Women of Distinction from Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

They are Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen T. Condon, 9th Circuit Judges Kristi Lea Harrington and Deadra L. Jefferson, Hollywood Mayor Jacquelyn S. Heyward, Berkeley County School Board member Wilhelmina Moore, Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson and outgoing state Rep. Annette D. Young, R-Summerville.

"We think it's a great occasion to celebrate the past and honor the present, and we're looking toward the future," Horres said.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of both men and women that advocates for an active and informed electorate.

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855 or ywenger@postandcourier.com.