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Honoring Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Remarkable Women of New Jersey

As we embark on Women’s History Month, let’s shine a spotlight on the extraordinary women of New Jersey, whose contributions have left an indelible mark on our state and our country.

From the halls of Congress to the streets of our communities, women in New Jersey have been at the forefront of progress, breaking barriers and blazing trails for future generations. Their resilience, courage, and unwavering determination serve as an inspiration to us all.

New Jersey played a significant role in the women’s rights movement, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here are a few key contributions and events that demonstrate New Jersey’s involvement:

Early Advocates: New Jersey was home to several early advocates for women’s rights, including suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who organized the historic Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, often considered the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. While the convention itself took place in Seneca Falls, New York, Stanton and Mott hailed from nearby New Jersey.

Women’s Suffrage: New Jersey was also part of the larger suffrage movement, with suffragists organizing rallies, marches, and campaigns across the state to advocate for women’s right to vote. Although New Jersey initially granted women the right to vote in certain elections in 1776, that right was revoked in 1807, and it wasn’t until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that women regained the right to vote nationwide. Alice Paul, a leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement was also a driving force behind the passage of the 19th Amendment. Her fearless advocacy paved the way for women across the nation to exercise their right to vote.

Women Voters Day in 1917

 Legal and Political Impact: New Jersey’s lawmakers and legal system also played a role in shaping women’s rights. For example, in 1807, New Jersey became the last Northern state to revoke women’s suffrage, highlighting the complexities and challenges of the suffrage movement at the state level. Women like Millicent Fenwick, who served as a congresswoman and ambassador, advocating tirelessly for human rights and social justice. Her dedication to public service embodies the spirit of New Jersey’s commitment to equality and inclusion. Madaline Worthy Williams was a Trenton teacher and New Jersey’s first black Assemblywoman. Sheila Y. Oliver was the first woman of color and the second woman overall to serve as the Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly. She was the second Black woman in the nation to hold the position of speaker in a lower house. Oliver continued to break barriers as New Jersey’s first Black Lieutenant Governor.

As we honor the women of New Jersey this Women’s History Month, let us amplify their voices, celebrate their achievements, and ensure that their stories are told and remembered for generations to come.

Group photo of NWP officers in front of the National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington D.C. on June 2, 1920

These dates represent key milestones in the ongoing struggle for gender equality and women’s rights in the United States:

1848: Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, marks the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

1869: Wyoming Territory grants women the right to vote, becoming the first place in the United States to do so.

1872: Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman to run for President of the United States.

1920: The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote nationwide.

1963: Betty Friedan publishes “The Feminine Mystique,” sparking the second wave of feminism in the United States.

1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is signed into law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

1966: The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by Betty Friedan and others to advocate for women’s rights.

1969: Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress.

1972: Title IX of the Education Amendments is enacted, prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed as the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court.

1997: Madeleine Albright becomes the first female United States Secretary of State.

2009: Hillary Clinton is appointed as the 67th United States Secretary of State, becoming the first former First Lady to serve in a presidential cabinet.

2017: The Women’s March is one of the largest protests in U.S. history.

2021: Kamala Harris is sworn in as the first female Vice President of the United States, as well as the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history.