Aug. 26, 2020 marks 100 years since ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. The campaign for women’s suffrage began decades before the Civil War, a time during which it was considered that a true woman must be a pious, submissive wife and mother concerned only with home and family.
I 1971, then Manhattan Congresswoman Bella Abzug designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. While women still face many inequities especially at the professional level, great strides have been made over the past 50 years.
On Aug. 26, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran joined Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove) and other County officials during a ceremony at the Nassau County Legislature to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. It is fitting and proud to note that Laura Curran is Nassau’s first female County Executive. Also present for the ceremony was Antonia Petrash, who has published several books about remarkable women and women’s history, including “Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement.”
Petrash has devoted countless hours ensuring young women are aware of the struggle so many women endured 100 years ago that many take for granted today: the right to vote. She shares her extensive knowledge of women’s history through her writings, lectures and meetings. In 2016, Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton selected Antonia Petrash to receive a Trailblazer award as part of the County’s Women’s History Month “Women of Distinction” ceremony. “As the mother of three young women, reaching this milestone in our nation’s history is especially poignant,” Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton said. “When my mother graduated with a PhD in the 1960s, her classmates were primarily men. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, yet women still have so far to go to enjoy the same opportunities and salaries as men have for so long.”
The legislator also urges every women and man to vote. It is a right that every U.S. citizen 18 and older has that residents of many countries around the world do not enjoy and it should never be taken for granted.