By Chris Olsen
I recently discovered a flyer from the National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company in New York titled “Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote.” Intrigued by its origin, I did a bit of research.
The National Woman Suffrage Association—founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1869—produced the leaflet and it was circulated a century ago, between 1915 and 1917. The piece advocated for women’s right to vote and the efforts of many eventually paid off. On June 4, 1919, the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote was passed by Congress. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.
Reading about why women should be granted the right to vote 100 years ago, I was struck by the fact that many of the reasons highlighted remain issues for women today. While women have the right to vote, we continue to fight for basic rights that women were fighting for more than a century ago. Today, the flyer could be titled “Twelve Reasons Why MORE Women Should
Vote BE VOTED INTO OFFICE.”
From the original National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company document (with commentary):
- Because those who obey the laws should help to choose those who make the laws. (And because women who obey the laws should also MAKE the laws.)
- Because laws affect women as much as men. (Laws affect EVERYONE.)
- Because laws which affect WOMEN are now passes without consenting them. (How is this still an issue all these years later?)
- Because laws affecting CHILDREN should include the woman’s point of view as well as the man’s. (Yep.)
- Because laws affecting the HOME are voted on in every session of the Legislature. (Right.)
- Because women have experience which would be helpful to legislation. (Yes! We offer an important perspective that men can’t because they’re not … well … female.)
- Because to deprive women of the vote is to lower their position in common estimation. (To deprive women equal representation at the table is to lower their position in common estimation.)
- Because having the vote would increase the sense of responsibility among women towards questions of public importance. (Women want to be involved! We want to influence our future! We don’t want men to make decisions for us. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, romantic paternalism puts women “not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”)
- Because public spirited mothers make public spirited sons. (Ahem, and daughters!)
- Because about 8,000,000 women in the United States are wage workers, and the conditions under which they work are controlled by law. (Because women make up nearly half of U.S. the population and workforce—74.6 million workers to be exact!)
- Because the objectives against their having the vote are based on prejudice, not on reason. (These days we call it gender bias.)
- Because to sum up all the reasons in one—IT IS FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF ALL. (Enough said!)
About the Author
Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.
About Publish Her
Publish Her is a female-founded and focused publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.