Maria Cantwell

Senator Maria Cantwell

“For nearly a century, these women fought to be heard. And their efforts fundamentally transformed our democracy and our country.”

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), term beginning 2001

We know that our country is stronger, more successful, more representative when we include women at every table, and at every board room, and at every ballot box, and in every discussion in our families and in our communities. That’s why it’s so important to honor all the women who struggled hard and long to make sure that our democracy included our voices. Those women who saw the promise of the United States and fought for their place in it. Those women helped craft a more perfect union. For nearly a century, these women fought to be heard. And their efforts fundamentally transformed our democracy and our country.

The suffragists paved the way for so many other women, and I’m very proud to represent a state with a long tradition of women activists and leaders—leaders like Emma Smith DeVoe and May Hutton—and to carry that tradition forward. I think it says a lot about Washington state that our state is showing what women in government is all about. And we’re proud that women’s suffrage was enshrined in Washington’s state constitution in 1910, a full 10 years ahead of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

I’m a huge believer that we need more women in leadership positions because we are helping to solve some of our country’s biggest challenges. When women are included and show up, we are helping to represent the kinds of solutions we like to see. And that means we get better solutions and we get more representative government and society. I came to Congress in the 90s as part of the “Year of the Woman.” And one of the end results was that we were able to increase the amount of women’s healthcare research by about 32 percent because we were able to sit on every committee and say, “there’s a lot of healthcare research going on, but what about women’s health?”

This anniversary is a great moment to celebrate the suffragettes, but there is still so much more work to do.

In my office is a poster from the suffrage campaign to remind me of everything those women fought for and achieved. We owe so much to all the women who opened those doors ahead of us, and it’s our responsibility to keep up that fight for equal access and equal representation for all the women who come after us.