Idaho fetes 100 years of women suffrage

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BOISE — Idaho Women 100 honors the state’s “courageous past, unlimited future” through statewide celebrations of women’s suffrage and success.

The Idaho Women In Leadership and Idaho State Historical Society partnered with several organizations throughout Idaho including League of Women’s Voters of Idaho and American Association of University Women to create the Idaho Women 100 Campaign.

“We’re inviting anyone to come together, whether it’s a tribe or a city or a county, everybody together makes this happen,” Janet Gallimore, executive director of Idaho State Historical Society, said in an interview.

2020 will mark 100 years of women’s right to vote by the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution on Aug. 18, 1920. Idaho, however, became the fourth state to grant women’s voting right and the first state to do so by constitutional amendment.

The Idaho Women 100 Campaign launched on Thursday, March 28, during Women’s History Month, to commemorate the 100th anniversary and kickoff a yearlong celebration across Idaho.

First Lady Teresa Little opened the event revealing her great-grandfather, Daniel Gamble was among the lawmakers in the Idaho State Representatives who voted in 1896 to pass the right for women to vote.

In 1898, the first statewide election after women were granted the right to vote, Permeal French was elected as the first woman Superintendent of Public Instruction along with three other women elected to legislature, according to the Idaho State Historical Society.

Since then, Idaho continues to rank above the nation for percentage of women in legislature. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Idaho reported at 30.5% of women representation in legislature compared to the national percentage of 28.7 in 2019.

Representative Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) also spoke at the event, noting Idaho’s historical year of the election of the state’s first female lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin.

“I’m incredibly proud of the women who I have the honor of working with in the Idaho state Senate and the rest of the legislature,” Sen. Stennett said.

Horman says she visits an exhibit in the Idaho State Capitol that honors past Idaho women who’ve served in the legislature when she needs a little extra inspiration.

Idaho Women 100 also recognized on Thursday the Idaho Business Review’s 2019 Woman of the Year, Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise). Buckner-Webb was elected to Idaho’s House of Representatives in 2010 and then to the Idaho Senate in 2012, becoming the first African-American woman in both positions.

Buckner-Webb’s Senate seat replacement and long-time friend, Sen. Yvonne McCoy, spoke at the event on her behalf about how women’s suffrage makes everyone’s vote count.

“Tell them why their vote does count,” McCoy said. “Tell them that the true equality of women depends on having more women in powerful positions.”

Lori Otter, Idaho’s former first lady and I-WIL CEO, said, “We look forward to more women holding office, running companies, owning businesses and leading initiatives in your communities.”

The Idaho Women 100 plans to commission several legacy projects during the centennial year to honor the yearlong celebration of women’s suffrage in Idaho, including a book, a statute and a documentary.

“We in America must never take for granted our precious right to vote; we must not forget how we got here, and we must not forget the brave women who fought on our behalf,” McCoy said.

If you would like to organize, donate or participate in an Idaho Women 100 event, go to www.idahowomen100.com to find out how.

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