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NYC women celebrate 100th anniversary of right to vote

November 7, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (right) listens as Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (center) pays tribute to pioneers in the women’s suffrage movement. At left is Chika Onyejiukwa, chairperson of the NYC Women Vote 100 Coalition. Photo courtesy of Rosenthal’s office
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Elected officials and voting rights advocates marked the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New York State by holding a rally on the steps of City Hall on Monday and calling on females to run for public office in large numbers.

The rally, sponsored by the City Council Women’s Caucus and the NYC Women Vote 100 Coalition, was part celebration, part a call to action, according to participants. Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene-Clinton Hill) and Helen Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side) are the co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus.

Women were granted the right to vote in New York state in 1917, three years ahead of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women in the U.S. that same right federally.

To celebrate the historic day, the City Council issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 6 as Women’s Vote Day.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito noted that while women have achieved parity in the voting booth, there is still more to be accomplished in terms of gender equity.

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“Today, we honor the accomplishments of women across the globe as we celebrate the strides women have made in the decades since women’s suffrage was enacted and recognize the work that still must be achieved to obtain full equality. Women’s rights are human rights, and together, we must continue to fight to uplift all women by enacting policies that are fair, just and equitable,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement.

One way to make strides is for more women to run for public office, according to Mark-Viverito.

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, let us take the next step and not only vote, but encourage women to run for office. Let us create a pipeline to give them the confidence and resources they need to achieve in this political climate, because when women lead, we all succeed,” she stated.

Cumbo also emphasized the need for more female political candidates. “Despite our significant achievements and invaluable contributions, women remain underrepresented as elected officials in all levels of government. As we embark upon the next century, we must endeavor to continue the legacy of these dynamic women by increasing opportunities for women of all backgrounds to have a seat at the table,” she said in a statement.

The women of today owe a great deal to the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th century, according to Rosenthal.

“Today, we mark the 100th anniversary of suffrage in New York state, and we honor the incredible dedication and determination of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all the unnamed women who championed, and finally won, suffrage for their sisters. These women persevered despite public and private harassment and ridicule, decades of setbacks and even arrest. But they won the day. And we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” Rosenthal said on Monday.
State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn Heights-Carroll Gardens) said New York state’s role in the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. should not be underestimated. As an example, she pointed to the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, which she said “propelled the equal rights movement forward and mobilized women around the country to fight for their right to vote.”

The NYC Women Vote 100 Coalition has been holding events celebrating women’s suffrage since the summer, according to rally participants, who said that Monday’s gathering also featured plenty of talk on how to engage the public in politics.  

“We must cherish that the suffrage movement gave us the right to vote. We must continue to drive women to the polls and understand that we have a stake in and can lead political discourse when we exercise this right. It is up to us to uphold this legacy and continue the fight for equality that is far from over,” Coalition Chairperson Chika Onyejiukwa said.


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