President’s Letter: Bipartisan Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act

Jennifer Tavares, CEcD, President and CEO

Last Friday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the History Center of Tompkins County to announce the bipartisan Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act (S. 3073). As I joined Senator Gillibrand and several noteworthy local female leaders, elected officials, young women, and many other community members on Friday, I was struck by how fortunate Tompkins County was to be among the stops for this announcement. Senator Gillibrand has worked tirelessly for women’s rights, economic equality, and to urge more women leaders to run for office and to “lean in”.

This legislation is meaningful because it will support continued education about the importance of the women’s suffrage movement. As the mother of two boys, I’m amazed by the numerous instances in which I’ve had to provide them context of the lives women “used to” live; the many women who were considered property of their husbands; the women who were not allowed to work outside the home or provide for their families; the mothers who weren’t allowed to have checking accounts; how for so many centuries, men ruled all. I’m not sure this is spelled out clearly in the history books.

My kids don’t know that world, and I realize how fortunate we are. But our work is not done, because our board rooms are not yet balanced; our managerial and leadership roles in the workplace are still predominantly male; sexism and misogyny still appear daily on the television, radio, internet, and in many conversations. Women continue to be subject to an alarming rate of sexual abuse by the time they graduate from college.

We’ve also never had it better, and the future is ours to behold. And while this is our reality in America, there are many women around the world who don’t have a fraction of the opportunities we have. Let’s not forget where we’ve come from, how far we have to go, or how to lift each other up on the way. 

The press release is republished in full below.

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GILLIBRAND VISITED TOMPKINS COUNTY HISTORY CENTER FRIDAY

SENATOR GILLIBRAND VISITED THE TOMPKINS COUNTY HISTORY CENTER TO ANNOUNCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE CENTENNIAL COMMISSION in HONOR OF 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF PASSAGE AND RATIFICATION OF 19TH AMENDMENT

Ithaca, NY – On Friday, September 30th, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the bipartisan Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act (S. 3073) at The History Center in Tompkins County. The legislation would establish a Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

“The legislation would help educate and inspire young people around the country about the unparalleled importance of the women’s suffrage movement in American history,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The women’s suffrage movement was born in New York, it was championed by fearless women like Juanita Breckenridge Bates, and nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was passed and ratified, our state continues to be at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights, from paid family leave to equal pay for equal work. The 19th Amendment changed the world for the better, and it deserves our commemoration. I will urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act.”

“As New York State gears up to celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2017, we see great value in the proposed national Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission that will support local and state entities to tell the stories of the arc of this struggle and that resonates with current issues,” said Rod Howe, Executive Director, the History Center in Tompkins County.

The State of New York was the birthplace f the women’s suffrage movement and it hosts some of the most legendary landmarks that helped shape this monumental gain in America’s history. New York was a powerful force in the movement for equal rights for women and the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth amendment. This bill provides the opportunity for New York to be recognized as an instrumental part of the struggle for women’s suffrage by providing grant funding for programs and activities that commemorate the efforts of the movement and the role of New Yorkers who promoted the core values of our democracy.

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