Its March which means its Women’s History Month, a chance for everyone to reflect and remark on the names — both known and unknown — that left an impact on all of our lives.
In our line or work, we know that when women are civically engaged our democracy thrives. We also know that when women stand up for democracy, our whole country thrives. So while we could spend every day talking about the faces and names that made a difference, we are challenging ourselves to narrow it down to just four in 2020.
Share your favorites with us by replying to our Women’s History Month social posts every Friday this month (@npvote).
Ida B. Wells Barnett
There wasn’t a problem Wells-Barnett wasn’t ready to tackle. Whether through establishing organizations like the Alpha Suffrage Club or the Negro Fellowship League, she worked to bringing attention to the lynching of Black people, Black women’s right to vote (in which she battled for inclusion in a mostly-White movement) and providing a space for Black men not welcomed in the Chicago.
The first Cuban woman elected to Congress in 1989, Ros-Lehtinen and in 2011, she gave the first Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address. A staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights, she was also the first Republican to vote for the Respect for Marriage Act — legalizing gay marriage. As one of the three founding members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Ros-Lehtinen said “I’m a person that believes in individual liberties and not having the government control everything.”
As one of the first Native American women elected to Congress in 2018, Haaland was sworn in wearing traditional Pueblo attire. In 2019, she became the first Native American woman to preside over the U.S. House of Representatives. After the 2020 election, President Joe Biden announced that he would be nominating Haaland for Secretary of Interior — another first for Native Americans.
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee
“No nation can ever make real and lasting progress in civilization unless its women are following close to its men if not actually abreast with them.” These are the words of Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, a Chinese-born New Yorker who was a fierce advocate for women’s suffrage. Even as White women gained the right to vote, the Chinese Exclusionary Act kept her without a voice at the ballot but she spoke in other ways, including publishing articles in the “Chinese Student’s Monthly” and becoming the minister of the Baptist Mission in Chinatown.