I recently finished work on a project with the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment gave women the right to vote after a decades long campaign by many strong, determined women who saw an inequity and took steps, often at great personal cost, to correct it. This push for voter equality began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the first women’s rights convention in the United States. It took 72 years from that date for women to gain the ballot. Many (probably most) of the women initiating the actions which led to this all- important right, never lived to cast a vote but they understood the importance of what they were trying to accomplish and persevered in the face of violence and invective. Some lost their families as a result of their actions, many lost jobs, many were imprisoned or beaten. And yet, they never gave up. They continued to enlist more women to the cause until their movement became an irresistible force.
I think of these suffragists every time I cast my ballot and I have never missed voting in any election, whether national, state, or local since I became eligible. In the United States, voting is one of the rights of citizens but it is also a responsibility. I also consider it a responsibility to these amazing women who simply would not give up.
During my time with the Advocacy Project, I have come to recognize this same determination and persistence in the women we work with. I see the women in Nepal who lost loved ones to the disappearances. Even as the years have passed, they have continued their campaign to attain justice for those lost and restitution for those remaining. I see the women in Mali who have survived gender-based violence, trying to recover from their personal trauma but also telling their stories so they may help protect other women and girls from suffering the same fate. I see women in Zimbabwe working to prevent their young sisters or daughters from becoming child brides and showing them that with ingenuity and hard work, they can create an income producing business so they can help their families without having to be married off.
I am no longer surprised by these stories of sacrifice and determination because I encounter them wherever I go. Instead, I stand in awe of women everywhere – women who never give up, women who work together for the greater good, women who survive even when circumstances are against them. They persevere, they persist, they find a way. We should all be grateful for this quality in women and recognize that it makes the world better.
As I cast my vote in this presidential election, I’ll be thinking of the women who made my vote possible and take pleasure and pride in the knowledge that it will, in all likelihood, be the women’s vote that determines the outcome.
Thank you: Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mathilda Franziska Anneke, Alice Stone Blackwell, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Harriet Stanon Blach, Amelia Bloomer, Carrie Chapman Catt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Julia Ward Howe, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Anna Howard Shaw, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Alice Pal, Frances E.W. Harper, Mary Church Terrell, and all the countless other suffragists who worked tirelessly to secure the vote for American women.
Posted By Barbara Fitzsimmons
Posted Oct 12th, 2020