The League of Women Voters (LWV), a nonpartisan political organization that works to improve our system of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy, is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2010. Not coincidentally, the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution that gave women the right to vote celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2010, as well.
“The women who started the movement to give women the right to vote really didn’t know where it would end, how it would end, or when it would end,” said League of Women Voters president, Mary G. Wilson. “And yet they persevered. They persevered in a time when it wasn’t fashionable for women to speak out on any issue – let alone try to get some rights for themselves. They worked against all odds – and succeeded.”
In 1920, after a 72 year struggle, passage of the 19th amendment appeared to be imminent, and members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association met to form the League of Women Voters, the organization to educate the newly franchised women to effectively use the vote.
In 1920, LWV founder Carrie Chapman Catt urged the new organization to “finish the fight” and to work to end all discrimination against women. Initially, the LWV was primarily concerned with the status and rights of women and women’s issues, but interests were gradually expanded to include issues affecting men as well as women. Today, the LWV works to effect change on a wide variety of issues in the areas of Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources and Social Policy.
“This year marks the 90th Anniversary of The League of Women Voters and today our mission is as vital as it was a century ago,” said Julie Skye, LWV Tulsa 90th Anniversary Chair. “Words like ‘informed and active participation in government’ and ‘every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all’ are not just words. They define our very purpose.
Many men supported the suffragists in the early days of the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, and men continued to be supportive of the LWV over the years. In 1973, the LWV invited men to join the organization, and their numbers continue to increase.
The LWV is organized on three levels – national, state, and local. The national organization has headquarters in Washington D.C. Fifty state Leagues are mostly headquartered in state capitols. The LWV Tulsa is one of more than 800 local Leagues in cities and towns all over the United States.
The non-partisan LWV never supports or opposes candidates or parties, but the LWV is also political and takes stands on issues. These stands are based on positions which are the result of intensive study, discussion of the pros and cons, and, eventually, member consensus, all at the grassroots level. These positions and are the basis for advocacy of the government at the national, state, and local levels.
As the organization celebrates its 90th anniversary, it has much to look back upon, but the work is not yet complete and there is much to look forward to. The LWV continues to work towards meaningful citizen participation in the government processes.
“For nine decades, the League has worked to ensure our democracy is transparent, effective, and truly representative,” said Ms. Wilson. “Those challenges are as real today as they were for our suffragist foremothers who struggled for their right to vote so many years ago.”
All are welcome to join the LWV and become part of our respected and effective organization. As the League is where hands on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For more information about the League of Women Voters, contact LWV Tulsa at firstname.lastname@example.org or (918) 747-7933.