Cast off the shackles of yesterday!

Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!

Our daughters’ daughters will adore us

And they’ll sign in grateful chorus

Well done, Sister Suffragette!

In one of the early scenes in the 1964 movie version of Mary Poppins, Mrs. Banks, for whom Poppins eventually serves as nanny, celebrates her efforts in rebelling against authority to fight for a woman’s right to vote in England. Her personality and scenes show why the fight was difficult in the early 1900s. Though she cheers on women’s rights in her home and in public, she must put all of her pins, sashes and banners away before her husband gets home and sees them because “You know how the cause infuriates Mr. Banks.” It is an interesting window into society at the time and the complicated agenda women faced.

Suffrage is defined as the right to vote in political elections. And in 2020, American women celebrate the centennial of their right to vote.

According to womenshistory.org, the women’s suffrage movement actually began in 1848, when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, N.Y. For the next 50 years, women’s suffrage supporters worked to educate the public about the validity of women’s suffrage. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment, enfranchising women, was finally ratified. This victory is considered the most significant achievement for women in the Progressive Era. It was the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation’s history, and it was achieved peacefully, through democratic processes. Read more at womenshistory.org and history.com.

As Darien celebrates its 200th bicentennial in 2020 — it is interesting to realize women could not legally vote for half of its existence. And though some would say today that many individuals still might feel disenfranchised, it is hard, among today’s generations, to remember a time when women did not have that right. Organizations like Darien’s League of Women Voters are certain to remind us of this importance.

It is easy to take that right for granted if it comes easily to us, and in some cases, not vote at all. But for all, it is important to remember than many have fought in this country and many still continue to fight in others, to have their voice heard and be part of a democracy.

Women should celebrate this right’s centennial, and we all should remember that it is a right we should respect by exercising it — especially this year, with an important Presidential election on the horizon.

As women, we should be grateful to these brave and outspoken predecessors for fighting for future generations to ensure they have a voice.

Well done, Sister Suffragettes.