By Commissioner Deede Weithorn….
On August 26th I led a march on Lincoln Road to commemorate the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the United States, and I specifically use the word “win.” The fight for this simple right lasted over 70 years and involved many amazing and diverse women along the way. The one thing these heroes had in common was that they would not give up until they had won the vote and after that they continued to fight, as we do today, for the full equality for all Americans. Without women such as these; Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Stone, and too many more to name, I know I would not be where I am today, an elected official in the State of Florida, which coincidently did not ratify the 19th Amendment until May 1969.
Women’s Equality Day, established in 1971, was born out of Representative Bella Abzug desire to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment and to call attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. As it stands today women are 51% of the population, but less than 17% of the congressional seats in Washington DC, and less than 23% of statewide elected officials. That is why I am proud that Miami Beach recently hosted The White House Project’s first training for women who want to run for public office in Florida. The White House Project is a national non-profit which aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency.
On Women’s Equality Day we recognize the fearless women who came before us and I wanted to mention that while Florida was late ratifying the 19th Amendment, we had an active statewide suffragette associate which had 800 members by 1917. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association visited Miami in 1915 and the Miami Herald referred to her as, “one of the greatest woman America had produced,” and continued to say her speech was “one of the wittiest, wisest, and sanest expressions of the suffrage arguments” ever delivered.
My hope is that with organizations such as the White House Project, and the hard work we all do each day, we can inspire, support and create opportunities for each other as we look forward to the day when we do not introduce each other as “the first woman to…”