NY counties celebrate Women’s History Month, 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

Posted 5 March 2020 at 9:26 am

Press Release, New York State Association of Counties

Photo by Tom Rivers: These bronze statues were erected in 1998 at Seneca Falls and show a trio of women’s rights trailblazers. Susan B. Anthony is at left, with Amelia Bloomer in center and Elizabeth Cady Stanton at right. Seneca Falls commemorates a meeting by the three women back in 1851. The statues – “When Anthony met Stanton” – are a gift from New York State to Seneca Falls in 1998, when George Pataki was governor. The gift was made “On Behalf of the Governor’s Commission Honoring the Achievements of Women,” according to a plaque by the display.

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) announced that, in partnership with the NYSAC Women’s Leadership Council, it is launching a monthlong celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees and protects women’s constitutional right to vote. During this month, NYSAC will also recognize the contributions of women in New York county government.

To celebrate this historic milestone, NYSAC is encouraging counties across the state to pass resolutions honoring the 100th anniversary. A sample resolution can be read by clicking here.

“This year marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. Now more than ever, we are committed to continuing our fight for equal opportunities and fairness for all,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “During Women’s History Month, we are encouraging New Yorkers to participate in the many events and celebrations happening across the state. As a former county official, I commend the New York State Association of Counties and the Women’s Leadership Council for recognizing the contributions of women in local government and honoring the 100th anniversary. As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, we have accomplished a lot in New York, but we still have more work to do to achieve full equality.”

“Women of New York have contributed to the economic, social, and cultural success in every sphere of life,” said Martha Sauerbrey, Chair of NYSAC’s Women’s Leadership Council and Chairwoman of the Tioga County Legislature. “They have made countless chronicled, as well as undocumented, historic contributions to the growth and strength of our communities and our state. They have been leaders not only in securing their own professions but also the right of suffrage. I encourage women and men to take a moment and honor those women who came before us.”

“NYSAC honors the contributions of women, past and present, who fought to have their voices heard and to secure greater equality for themselves and future generations,” said NYSAC President Jack Marren. “The women’s rights movement began in Finger Lakes region of New York State and spread across America. This Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing that legacy and the many women who have worked to promote equality.”

Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on August 18, 1920 to declare, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The ratification of the 19th Amendment represented a major victory and a turning point in the women’s rights movement, ensuring women could more fully participate in our democracy and fundamentally changing the role of women in the civic life of our nation.

New York’s Role

New York was the epicenter of the women’s rights movement. On July 13 of 1848, activist Jane Hunt hosted Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton at her home for tea where they discussed the injustices faced by women and decided to fight for change. Six days later, the women’s rights movement was born at the Seneca Falls Convention.

Throughout the fight for women’s suffrage, the New Yorkers who were leading the effort included Susan B. Anthony, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, and Carrie Chapman Catt.

In 1917—more than 65 years after the tea party in Waterloo—New York became one of the first states to grant women the right to vote, an action that helped pave the way for the passage of the 19th Amendment, extending that right to all citizens in the United States.

This amendment changed the face of the American electorate forever and opened the door to women serving in local government.

NYSAC Women’s Leadership Council

Women remain underrepresented in elected office, making up only 23 percent of government roles at the state and local level. Established in 2017, the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) is a bipartisan organization that offers resources to support female county officials and women holding county office and engage women in seeking leadership positions in their communities and within NYSAC. Women’s Leadership Council resources include:

• Panels, forums, workshops, and networking events at NYSAC conferences;

• Opportunities to speak with women in county government around New York State;

• Articles in the NYSAC News magazine;

• Online Resource Center, including NYSAC research and reports; and

• Training opportunities.

NYSAC invites all county officials – regardless of their gender – to join this important initiative to engage women seeking leadership positions in their communities. To learn more, click here.

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