You may be wondering: who on earth is Jeannette Rankin and why should I care? A women’s rights activist, a vital role in the women’s suffrage movement, and the first congresswoman is just a few words to describe Ms. Rankin.
Jeannette was born in Missoula, Montana in 1880. Born to a rancher and schoolteacher, Jeannette briefly followed her mother’s footsteps and became a teacher. She later joined the fight for women’s suffrage and became a large voice for the movement. Her activism was a key part in winning the close race to become the first woman in not only the House of Representatives, but all of Congress. Though her accomplishment would be significant regardless, it’s necessary to mention that her winning a seat in Congress gave women hope everywhere. It’s important to keep in mind that still, in this time, many women were STILL not able to vote despite Rankin’s election.
This was not just a major victory for her political career; this was a victory for women across the nation.
I can think of few symbols better than Jeannette Rankin to kick off Women’s History Month. Lots of kick-butt women will be featured this month, I know. I just hope we remember to keep one in mind who allows me, as a woman, to be able to write this article, vote in my first election this year, be involved in political conversation, and so much more.
Next week, I’ll be running for presiding office at the Kentucky United Nations Assembly (a mock UN simulation for teens). As I run next week, and as I go throughout all of this month, I’ll remember the significance of what I’m doing and how women, for lack of a better term, rock.
Something I love thinking about is how even during a time period where women were expected to be meek and obedient, women defied that and rose to beat the odds. Seriously, think about it: in a time when women were institutionalized for wanting to leave their husbands, she had the guts to not only fight for the right to vote, but to fight for a seat in Congress, surrounded by men.
All in all, Jeannette Rankin is totally underrated. As we continue this month, I’m excited to see all of the other historic women who made a difference be brought to the spotlight and praised for their work. I thank Jeannette for giving the message to women everywhere that we matter, we have a voice, and will be heard.