Women’s rights have come a long way since the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. It’s hard to imagine that only a few decades ago, women weren’t afforded many of the rights men have, specifically in education. However, thanks to many courageous women from the past, today’s female leaders are able to work off the progress made by those before them to pursue their dreams.
It all took off in July 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a native New Yorker, organized and executed the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, not far from our community here in the Mohawk Valley. During the conference, Stanton drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, shaping women’s rights for future generations. The declaration demanded equal rights for men and women in regards to the right to vote, the law, education and employment. Her efforts helped grant women the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Around the time women were granted the right to vote, a Utica native, Mary Donlon, was making history as a female trailblazer in the legal profession. Donlon attended the Utica Free Academy and then Cornell University Law School, where she was the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of a law review, the Cornell Law Quarterly. In 1955, she made history again as the first woman to be appointed to a federal bench when she received a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Customs Court Judge.
Today, I think it’s important to teach our children about the past and about all of the progress that has been made. I am proud to celebrate Women’s History Month because it’s these women – along with others – who fought against all odds to pave the way for future generations. My daughter and all other women can now enjoy an education, the right to vote and the opportunity to reach their greatest potentials without barriers and boundaries.
As your Assemblymember, I support women’s rights and I encourage our community in the Mohawk Valley to celebrate Women’s History Month as we remember the courageous efforts of these trailblazing women. This year, I co-sponsored legislation that will establish a workforce training policy to provide women with information about compensation for jobs, high-earning potential careers, skills courses and more (A.9020), so that we can continue making progress toward equality in the years to come.