On Election Day, New York Celebrates 100 Years of Women's Suffrage
But the US still ranks 66th for gender equality in political empowerment.
As people across the US head to the polls to vote today, women in New York have special cause for celebration: the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the state.
In 1917, after 50 years of suffrage marches and rallies, New York became the first state in the Easten US to grant women the right to vote — three years before the 19th Amendment was passed giving women across the country the right to vote.
Though the women’s rights movement in the US began in New York with the Seneca Falls Convention, New York was not the first state to recognize women’s suffrage. In fact, Wyoming became the first state to give women the right to vote in 1869.
Today — a year after Hillary Clinton appeared on the ballot as the first female presidential candidate from a major political party — women across New York state happily exercised and celebrated their right to vote.
Many voters took a moment to acknowledge the struggle of those who came before them and fought for women’s suffrage.
It's also almost 100 years of a Woman's Right to Vote! Do it for the ladies who fought for this privilege, and for those who don't have it.— Narrah Murphy (@narrahmurph) November 7, 2017
Talked with a poll worker about how it’s been almost 100 years since women got the right to vote. She told me to never stop fighting for it.— Becky Spurr (@becky_spurr) November 7, 2017
Today we mark 100 yrs since women won the right to vote in NY. I commend all the women who fought for decades for this sacred right— Debi Rose (@CMDebiRose) November 6, 2017
The state even commemorated the occasion with celebratory stickers handed out at polling stations.
Suffragist Rosalie Jones says vote! Sticker today marks centennial of women's suffrage in New York pic.twitter.com/Q8MOnxQrVN— Allison C. Meier (@AllisonCMeier) November 7, 2017
Did it for the stickers & to celebrate 100 yrs of women’s right to vote & bc it takes two minutes & is one of most imp things ill do this yr pic.twitter.com/bkhk5VGzJM— Deanna (@Dbitetti) November 7, 2017
And the Empire State Building was lit in honor of the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York.
Tonight our lights will glow purple and yellow, honoring the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the New York State. pic.twitter.com/WaBVAvVvjq— Empire State Bldg (@EmpireStateBldg) November 6, 2017
While it has technically been 100 years since New York granted women the right to vote, many on social media have pointed out that women — and most men— of color were excluded from this right for several decades more.
"100 Yrs of a Woman's Right to Vote" erases Black, Asian, Native Am women who didn't have the right to vote until long after white women. pic.twitter.com/jz8GmYbPa2— Lisa Ko (@iamlisako) November 7, 2017
Women around the world have fought for the right to vote and participate in their political systems. In 2011, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia issued a decree ordering that women be given the right to vote, leaving the Vatican City as the last remaining country in which women cannot vote as the right is reserved for cardinals, who are exclusively male, and the only election held is for the role of pope of the Catholic Church.
But the right to vote is just one means of empowering women to engage with their government and political system.
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No country has closed the gender gap in political representation and empowerment, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report, though Iceland comes the closest with women holding 48% of its parliamentary seats.
The US trails far, far behind Iceland, ranking 66th out 144 countries in terms of gender equality in politics, according to the WEF report. And though women in New York should celebrate this hard-won right today, the US as a whole has a long way to go before it reaches gender parity in politics.
But the first and simplest step toward achieving gender equality in politics is exercising the right to vote.