This morning as we left for school, my 2-year old daughter enthusiastically greeted our new yard flag waving and exclaiming “RUTHIE”! While I stopped to marvel at how my toddler recognizes Ruth Bader Ginsberg with such an incredible amount of gusto and familiarity at such a young age, I also began to ponder what kind of flag would be in my front yard if it weren’t for one incredible trailblazing woman, Susan B. Anthony.
February 15 marks the birthday of Susan B. Anthony who was a pioneer for the women’s suffrage movement, paving the way for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and giving women in the United States the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony dedicated her life to working for women’s rights, advocating for female equality and challenging society’s status quo so fervently and tirelessly that doors and spaces that had been historically closed to women were forever opened.
Our Ruthie flag bears her famous quote, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” It’s unfathomable to imagine that a little over one hundred years ago, there were many places where women were not permitted, including a voting booth. In fact, it was considered a crime for a woman to vote, a crime for which in 1872 Susan B. Anthony was arrested, tried and fined $100.00. In addition to being barred from owning property, voting, and involvement in government affairs, women were also told to stay out of higher education. In 1900 when the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees voted to accept women only if they raised $110,000.00, it was Susan B. Anthony who pledged the cash value of her life insurance policy to secure the final amount. It is due to so many fearless and selfless acts of Susan B. Anthony that women today are able to vote, climb the career ladder, own property, and tell their own daughters that they can do anything they put their mind to doing.
While every day should be a celebration of the incredible fight women have had and continue to engage in for equality, I invite you to make a cognizant effort today to honor Susan B. Anthony and all the women who have and continue to break down gender barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and build a future where every woman is seen, appreciated and valued.
The truth is, there would probably be no Ruthie without Susan B. Anthony. I’m not sure who we would be waving to on our way out of the house, but I’m sure glad it’s her.
Authored by Jenna R. DiFrancesco, Esq., a Partner in Cipriani & Werner’s Pittsburgh, PA office and a member of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.