STATEWIDE — Women’s history month is coming up in March, and with it comes the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation creating a Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The purpose of this Commission is to celebrate the men and women who worked a hundred years ago to give women the right to vote. In particular, Indiana had a unique place within the women’s suffrage movement, according to Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch.
“[Indiana was] truly a leader… our women’s suffrage movement here in Indiana was not similar to what was going on in the other states in the midwest,” Crouch said on the Rob Kendall Show. “We involved Hoosier women and men of all races, of all ages, of all backgrounds. It was truly people coming together from all walks of life to work to allow women to have the right to vote.”
The first national convention to promote women’s suffrage was in New York in 1848, according to Crouch. Indiana held one of the first state conventions promoting women’s suffrage only three years later, in 1851. When it came time for the general assembly to actually ratify the 19th amendment, the governor at the time gave suffrage workers a room where they could come together and lobby the general assembly. The Commission has now dedicated a plaque to that room, which is currently the Legislative Services Agencies Conference Room. This plaque is only one of several things the Commission is doing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women obtaining their right to vote.
“We did send a poster out detailing the history of the suffrage movement here in Indiana. We sent that to all of our K-12 schools, for teachers, if they choose to educate their students on the history of suffrage movement here in Indiana,” Crouch said. “We also put a call-out to artists, because we want to create a piece of art that can commemorate the event and leave in the Indiana State House.”
The Commission is also planning a block party on Aug. 22, where they will be working closely with the Indiana State Museum, the Indiana Historical Society, the Eiteljorg Museum and the State House to celebrate the movement. However, Crouch noted that despite these great strides towards equality, historically women do not represent a huge percentage of general assemblies across the country. In fact, despite constituting 52 percent of the vote, women only represent 29 percent of general assemblies nationwide. Still, according to Crouch, Indiana has come a long way.
“The bright spot is that five of our seven statewide office holders are female here in Indiana, and we have the first female chief justice of the supreme court Loretta Rush,” Crouch said. “So I would have to think it is because of our progressiveness that started back a hundred years ago when women and men worked so hard to give us the right to vote.
More information on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission can be found on their website.
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