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THE STORY OF IDAHO'S SUFFRAGE

CELEBRATING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 19TH AMENDMENT

Article by Greg Gewalt

Photography by Idaho State Archives, Idaho Women in Leadership

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was officially ratified, enshrining women in America with the right to vote. In 2020 Idaho Women in Leadership and the Idaho State Historical Society is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the women's right to vote with a year long statewide celebration and commemoration. 

Idaho Women in Leadership and the Idaho State Historical Society are leading this initiative by convening organizations throughout the state to honor Idaho's early role in the women's suffrage movement to and shape the future of women's leadership in Idaho. 

In January Boise Mayor Lauren McLean issued and signed a proclamation declaring the 29th of January 2020 Boise Suffrage Day.

Mayor McLean said that because this was a year of many firsts, it was fitting that her first official announcement would celebrate the individuals who mobilized and empowered women to advocate for suffrage. 

"It was my honor to sign my first proclamation last night, both commemorating 100 years of suffrage for some (but not all) women and giving voice to history’s powerful lessons about true inclusion and equality,” said Mayor McLean.

The proclamation marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote to citizens of the United States regardless of sex. It also acknowledges that twenty-four years earlier, in 1896, an Idaho constitutional amendment secured women’s right to vote in Idaho, making it the fourth state in the nation after Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

Mayor McLean’s signing of the proclamation took place at the launch of a year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, with the opening of “Standing Together: Women’s Ongoing Fight for Equality,” a traveling exhibit developed by the National Women’s Party and put on by the Boise City Department of Arts & History. The exhibit explores the impact of the 1920 passage of the amendment and the issues still confronting the women’s rights movement today. The installation—which is free and open to the public—will be on view in the Boise City Hall Lobby through September 2020 during regular hours.

Idaho Women in Leadership and the Idaho State Historical Society and are leading this initiative by convening organizations throughout the state to honor Idaho's early role in the women's suffrage movement and shape the future of women's leadership in Idaho.  

Through their collective efforts, they are recognizing and celebrating the influence of women in Idaho over the past 100 years and their contributions to the political, cultural, economic, academic, social, and civic fields. Key to their initiative is to create a framework that will allow their partners and the public to highlight notable women in the movement throughout Idaho’s past and present. 

With the mayor’s signing of the proclomation, the Idaho Women 100 Committee has commenced their year-long 100th-anniversary celebrating women's right to vote. According to Debbie Field, Executive Director of Idaho Women in Leadership, “Our goals are to create legacy projects to live on for future generations through art, awards, collections, exhibits, and more. We will conduct research, host women’s leadership trainings, get out the vote and other events throughout the state. Through these efforts, we will work to shape the future of women’s leadership in Idaho by advancing shared leadership in politics, business, and education.”

Some of the special events will include regional oral history workshops, a traveling exhibit, regional lectures and presentations, and many more. The Idaho Women 100 Committee encourages everyone to join the celebrations by attending and/or sponsoring an event in your own community. You can visit the website www.idahowomen100.com for more details.

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