DOZ Issue 41 March 2019 - Page 12

DOZ Leadership Lessons SUSAN B ANTHONY Eturuvie Erebor S usan B Anthony is best known for fighting for the rights of women to vote. She was one of the key leaders in the women’s suffrage movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Anthony founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869. She is quoted to have said concerning her fight for the rights of women to vote, “it is my life, all that I live for.” In her day, women were viewed and treated as second- class citizens. They had less access to education and opportunities for employment than men and when they worked earned a quarter of what their male colleagues earned and for the same job. When a woman married her plight worsened as she gave up more rights. Married women could not own property, initiate a divorce or have custody of their children. A man could write in his will that he wished a member of his family to look after his children instead of their mother! When a married woman worked, her salary was paid directly to her husband. Without the rights to vote, it meant that women would never be able to get these unjust laws changed in their favour. In 1860, Susan along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton would pressure the New York State legislature to pass the Married Women’s Property Law which protected the rights of women to keep their earnings and share custody of their children. But two years later the law was terminated sending a distressing DOZ Magazine | March 2019 warning to Susan that without the rights to vote, any progress made was subject to change at the impulse of male politicians. Susan once said, “Women, we might as well be great Newfoundland dogs out baying to the moon as to be petitioning for the passage of bills without the power to vote.” She was not one to quit easily and would continue her fight, enduring arrest and verbal onslaught along the way. She did not like speaking in public, but her passion for seeing women liberated would cause her to stand on many stages in her lifetime, turning her into an eloquent speaker with time. She would continue to organise, agitate and educate women to fight for their rights. She said at one lecture, “the women of this nation must be awakened to a sense of their degradation. Or at least we who are awake must make an effort to awaken those who are dead asleep.” In 1897 the suffrage movement would succeed in getting three states to grant women the right to vote. This was a small victory but a victory nonetheless. Come 1920 there would be the nineteen amendments to the constitution which gave women the right to vote, but Susan would not live to see it having died in 1906. But in her honour, the amendment was officially added to the constitution on what would have been her 100 th birthday, August 20, 1920. In 1979 she received another posthumous honour when the United States Mint issued the Susan B. Anthony dollar as a coin with her image on it. Her statue sits at the United States Capitol. 12