League of Women Voters celebrates anniversary of women's suffrage

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

As the League of Women Voters of Southeast Missouri celebrated the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote, chapter president Sue Brockett said the role of women in local government and politics has advanced considerably since 1920, but there is room for more growth.

"Locally, like on school board, women are typically well-represented, and women tend to be on political committees, but there is still work to do," she said.

Brockett said as more women get involved in politics, they will motivate others.

"It's not that they run and lose, they just don't run," she said. "If women saw more women running for office, they would be encouraged to run, too."

In the county's two largest cities women do hold offices. While Jackson's mayor is a woman, there are no women on the city's board of aldermen. In Cape Girardeau, however, four out of six council members are female, but the mayor is not.

On the county level the ratio of female to male officeholders drops. Out of the 14 elected county officials, not including judges, only four are women.

During the group's anniversary celebration, the event's keynote speaker, Dr. Bonnie Stepenoff, history professor at Southeast Missouri State University, reminded the audience how hard women fought for the 19th Amendment. She said as early as the Revolutionary War, women were talking about voting.

"Women worked hard to get the vote. It was a long time coming," she said.

Stepenoff discussed the struggles and tactics used by some notable suffragists including Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

She said it was important to celebrate the amendment's anniversary because so many women take the right to vote for granted.

"They forget the struggle. Some people think it is too much trouble to vote, but they need to think about what these women went through to earn that right," Stepenoff said.

There are more than 51,000 registered voters in Cape Girardeau County, but there is no exact number of how many of those voters are women because voter registration cards have not always included a place to indicate sex.

More than 30 people attended the luncheon program Tuesday at the Cape River Heritage Museum, which included Stepenoff's address and an exhibit of League of Women Voters' artifacts.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Address:

538 Independence Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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