Senator Kirsten Gillibrand chose Fayetteville’s connection to women’s rights as a place to announce her bill to promote the anniversary of women’s suffrage. She’d like to see more attention to the centennial of women’s right to vote, which comes around in 2020. Gillibrand says the voting rights struggle is connected to women’s issues today.
“I think there’s a real lack of awareness about equality in general. I think our job as leaders is to really speak out about women’s rights and why it matters. Most people don’t know they’re not paid a dollar for a dollar for the same work their male colleagues are. If you asked all your colleagues at school ‘do you think you’ll be paid the same amount as the guy standing next to you’, they’d say ‘ of course I’m going to be paid the same amount.’ But in too many professionals and industries and jobs it’s just not true.”
The “Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act” would help fund educational and outreach efforts in all 50 states about the milestone. She announced the bill at the Matilda Joslyn Gage home. Director Sally Roesch Wagner emphasizes the role the Fayetteville home had, where Gage and others risked safety and freedom to fight for voting rights.
“Here at the Gage center we dialogue about the pressing issues of social justice that inflamed the hearts of suffragists 100 years ago. And we train young women to be leaders like Senator Gillibrand in our Girl Ambassadors for Human Rights program. So it is fitting that we’re gathered here in this room where Matilda Joslyn Gage planned and organized much of that revolution.”
Gillibrand notes this area has a woman county executive, mayor and now a nominee for president…that owe something to voting rights.
“So we’ve come a long way since the 19th amendment was passed, but we have a lot of work still to do. I guarantee you if we had 51% of women in Congress, we wouldn’t be debating ‘whether’ we should have equal pay for equal work, ‘whether’ women should have access to contraception . These would be foregone conclusions because they would be so obvious as basic civil rights and civil liberties.”
The Suffrage Centennial Act has bi-partisan support.