This country was founded on the principle “all men are created equal.” Over 70 years after those words were penned, 300 women came together to write the Declaration of Sentiments and proclaim “all men and women are created equal.” And those two words, “and women,” ignited the first feminist movement which achieved women’s suffrage, succeeded in giving women ownership of their wages, opened school doors to women, and enabled mothers to become the lawful guardians of their children.
Or, I should say: achieved for, succeeded for, opened doors for and enabled some women. The magnitude of what was achieved when these hundreds of women came together cannot be ignored, for Seneca Falls was truly a milestone in this country. However, we must recognize that this powerful moment in history, this turning point for equality, only talked about the rights for a few women. And during this powerful moment in history, the women only dared to go so far. In fact, women’s suffrage was seen to be too radical and was almost removed from the Declaration of Sentiments (thankfully, Frederick Douglass convinced them otherwise).
So this July 11th to the 13th, we, the young women of the United States of America, must come together to ensure that all women are represented in our demands for progress and equality. We must dare to dream bigger and reach farther than the women who came before us ever thought possible.
This is the true legacy of the Seneca Falls Convention. The 300 women who gathered all those years ago set a foundation that proved when passionate and dedicated women come together, progress is within reach.
Thankfully, in part because of those women, the world has changed since our foremothers convened in Seneca Falls. But the work is far from over. The country we live in today grants women the right to vote, but also allows corporations and money to speak louder than individuals. This in turn leaves young Americans feeling disenchanted by our government and the least engaged age demographic. As a result, many government officials do not feel beholden to our voices and because we don’t have access to the floor of the Senate or House Galleries, officials are passing laws that infringe upon women’s rights to control our own bodies, lives and futures. While there are many women and men allies in Congress and state legislatures who are fighting for us, when women only make up 20 percent of the House and Senate Chambers, our dreams and voices are not adequately represented.
We must, therefore, take this opportunity, this Platform, to represent ourselves. We must take this opportunity, this Platform, to learn from, support and stand along-side women whose experiences are not our own. We must celebrate our differences and fight together.
We are just months away from the general election and our future remains uncertain, our rights hang in the balance. We have to come together to rewrite the Declaration of Sentiments to fit the 21st century and our feminism, one that recognizes equality for some is not equality. We have to come together and demand that our government listens.
Now is the time to show up and speak up. See you in Washington.