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Olivia Kestin
Girls & Women

On Election Day, New York Celebrates 100 Years of Women's Suffrage

NYC-Election-100-Years-Women-Vote-Social.jpgImage: Olivia Kestin

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.

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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.

The state even commemorated the occasion with celebratory stickers handed out at polling stations.

Read more: 250,000 Women in Office by 2030. This Group Is Making It Happen

And the Empire State Building was lit in honor of the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York.

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.

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.

Read more: Women Vote in Saudi Arabia for First Time, Land 19 Seats

But the right to vote is just one means of empowering women to engage with their government and political system.

Global Citizen campaigns in support of gender equality and against gender discrimination. You can take action here.

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.

Read more: 7 Feminist Laws Iceland Has That the World Needs

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.