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Press Release - WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY CELEBRATION - Taking Time to Mark the Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

Contact: Renee Stromme

Taking Time to Mark the Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

BISMARCK—The ND Women’s Network, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the ND Humanities Council, and Matrix Design, is hosting a celebration in honor of Women’s Equality Day on Monday, August 26, 2013, at the Former Governors’ Mansion at 320 E. Ave. B, in Bismarck, ND. The event, free and open to the public, will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include a social hour/photo exhibit, children’s story corner, and guest speakers including special guest, Dr. Barbara Handy-Marchello. Dr. Handy-Marchello is associate professor emerita, University of North Dakota History Department. She is the author of Women of the Northern Plains: Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier (Minnesota Historical Society Press 2005).

The anniversary of the 19th amendment, Women’s Equality Day, is a time to celebrate the progress achieved by active citizens over the past nine decades and also a time to look to what still needs to be done to make democracy work for all Americans. In communities across the country, including North Dakota, citizens still lack real representation by their elected officials and the policies they pass. In North Dakota only 17% of the state legislators are women and less than 6% of women serve on county commissions across the state. It is only with the continued work of citizens and leaders of all backgrounds that this can change. It is crucial that we engage more citizens in the democratic process, on every level.

Passage of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote, was a difficult fight. First initiated after the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention in July 1848, the struggle for the adoption of the amendment dragged on for over 70 years. The initiators of the amendment never lived to see voting privileges extended to women.

During WWI the National Women’s Party began to increase the pressure on the White House and Congress to pass the 19th amendment. In 1917 they began a three-year daily silent vigil outside the White House. Many of the women were jailed. While in jail women were force-fed, held in solitary confinement, and were near death. In the end their efforts were successful. On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified and women were guaranteed the right to vote.

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