SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins celebrated 100 years of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S. during Women’s Day at the New York State Fair.
Hochul noted the suffrage movement started with a women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848. Women won the right to vote in New York, two years before women’s suffrage was passed by Congress in 1919. Hochul questioned how women would be judged 100 years from now.
“Because I know I’m looking backwards and I’m impressed with the women that were so bold, so audacious, they took to the streets, they left their homes, they were ostracized by their families, churches and communities and they never gave up the fight,” Hochul said. “So, what is the fight that we’re taking up?”
Hochul highlighted New York’s paid family leave program as an example of progress and said currently, child care is one of the greatest barriers to women’s financial success. While there has been progress made towards social justice for women, Hochul said there is still more to do.
“Until we eradicate all forms of discrimination including paycheck discrimination,” Hochul said. “Women in the state and the nation still do not earn as much as men do. Women go to work and have to deal with comments and harassments and assaults, still to this day.”
Stewart-Cousins, the first female majority leader of the state Senate, said 100 years is not a long time and spoke about how when her mother was born, she did not have the right to vote.
“But because of her inability to participate in this system, she never had the vision to imagine that her daughter would become the first woman leader in New York State,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Syracuse state Sen. Rachel May reflected on how her first vote in the Senate was to elect Stewart-Cousins, not only as the first female Senate majority leader, but the first female to hold one of the three most powerful positions in the state.
“We knew we were making history in that moment and we felt like that’s been going on ever since,” May said.
Having women in high offices, May said, makes a difference in helping to change the culture around issues like equal pay for equal work.