By Shannon Traphagen
From President Wilson in 1919 to President Carter in 1980, the recognition of women’s rights and public service dates back long before women started “breaking the glass ceiling.” With the start of the suffragette movement, to Carter’s words in the 80s, the efforts of many led to the designation of Women’s History Month in March in 1987. And, who would have thought 30 years later the first woman, Hillary Clinton, would run for President of the United States. It’s not surprising then to note that this year’s theme, published through the National Women’s History Alliance is, “Valiant Women of the Vote.” The theme honors those who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.
While voting rights do remain an issue, so too do women’s reproductive rights, the Fair Pay Act, social progress, and many other issues of the 21st century that women all across the globe fight for today. The United Nations said, “To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, requires active participation, equality, and development of women. We acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.” Right here in WNY, we see the passion, strength of character, and fortitude of so many women who are moving the goalposts to bring about change now that will impact the next generation.
Emily Burns-Perryman is the Associate VP of Marketing and Communications for Daemen College. However, she is also one of the co-founders for the Unite by Night Foundation, and a 2019 finalist for the Athena Young Professionals Leadership Awards. “It’s so inspirational to see the entrepreneurial spirit of women in WNY. It’s powerful and hopeful to see the dozens of grassroots groups and organizations, businesses, and other ventures that have popped up,” said Perryman, adding, “I feel encouraged by the people I meet in our Buffalo communities.”
Sheri Scavone, Executive Director for the WNY Women’s Foundation, feels this Women’s History month is a great time to reflect. “This is the perfect time to look back on all that women have accomplished in past decades — particularly during this centennial year celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. But there is still much work to do towards ensuring an equitable future for women and girls in WNY.”
Through groups like Society for Women Engineers, WNY Women’s Foundation, Junior League of Buffalo, Albright Knox Gallery and many more, WNY businesses recognize the important strides women are taking to make the world a better place.
And, men too are celebrating women’s achievements! Bob Emerson, Executive Director Old Fort Niagara, says, “Women played an important part in the fort’s story. From diplomacy to defense, women served here, but their stories have rarely been told.” He added, “If we truly want to present a balanced, inclusive picture, we need to discover and interpret women’s experiences, past, present, and future.
For a list of events during Women’s History month, visit eventbrite.com, erie.gov, and our Healthy Happenings listings on page 46 of this magazine.