by Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senator (D-Michigan)
92 years ago, women fought for the right to vote, and won. It was an historic moment when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. While women have made great progress since then and are participating in politics more than ever before, there’s no question that we are still underrepresented in federal, state and local governments. Having more female voices is not just good for women; it is good for our entire country. The experiences and values that women bring to the political process are critical to effective decision-making. After all, we are the majority!
When I first campaigned for local office, I ran against a man who went around town calling me “that young broad.” His name-calling just made me work that much harder. When the votes were counted, “that young broad” beat him!
We have come a long way since then, but we still have work to do. When I was first elected to the Senate in 2000, it was the first time that there were enough women to serve on each committee in the U.S. Senate. Today, women chair five committees, including my own, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
The first female Senator, Rebecca Felton, was appointed to fill a position for only one day. When sworn into office, she said, “Mr. President, the women of this country are going to come and sit here. There may not be very many the next few years, but in time they will come. When they do I pledge that this body will get ability, integrity and patriotism.” Since Felton, there have only been 38 more women senators, and 17 of us are serving right now.
This November, let us remember those women who, in 1920, fought for political equality. And let us remember all of those who fought to win us our democracy, protect it through the years, and expand voting rights to every single American citizen. The best way to our show our appreciation for their sacrifices is to use the power of our vote on Election Day.
In 2000, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow became the first woman elected to the Senate from Michigan. She is now Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and a member of the Senate Finance, Energy, and Budget Committees.
For more information on voting, visit YWCAVote.org.