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Herald Editorial: Better days are ahead for Utah women

By Daily Herald Editorial Board - | Feb 13, 2020

This week holds significant meaning to voters — and not the ones in New Hampshire or Iowa.

On Wednesday, Utah marked 150 years since the state’s suffrage law took effect on Feb. 12, 1870. The legislation allowed 18,000 women in Utah to vote, according to Better Days 2020.

This legislation in Utah extended voting rights, though no rights to hold elected office, to mostly white women citizens –as Native American women and other women of color wouldn’t obtain that right for many more years. However, it was in Utah where Americans first saw women vote with equal suffrage.

It’s an incredible heritage to be proud of. There are countless women who pioneered the field of politics, government, education and business in the state. Multiple organizations, including news outlets, are sharing the stories of these women in 2020 with the hope it will inspire our young generations to explore their dreams, challenge societal limitations, and most importantly — get involved.

On Valentine’s Day, the state will simultaneously celebrate the first Utah Women’s Voter Registration Day. Voterise, a Utah nonprofit, is hoping to register thousands of more Utah women in an effort to bring them a voice in the future of their cities, counties, state government and federal representatives. The group is particularly interested in a demographic it wants to see higher voter registration and turnout from: 18- to 29-year-olds.

We support Voterise in this endeavor, and encourage women of all age groups, but particularly young adult women to register to vote wherever they may live in Utah.

According to Utah Women and Leadership Project report snapshot in September 2019, in the history of Utah as a state, we have never elected a woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Over the decades, we elected a total of four women to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Among the state’s executive offices, there’s been just two women to serve in those capacities.

We need more women in state executive offices. And the need doesn’t stop there.

As Utah embraces the momentous occasion of celebrating the heritage of women in the state, it’s imperative that the trailblazing continue and not just stop with our pioneering ancestors.

We need more women registered to vote, and more women running for office — be it city councils, county government, school boards, state Legislature, and, yes, our federal delegation.

We echo the sentiments of Susan B. Anthony for modern days, that true equality will come when the number of women making laws and electing lawmakers reflects the demographics of our population.

Utah still has a ways to go. But, better days are ahead.

In 2018, Utah women voter participation reached 60.5%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is great progress within a single decade, given that participation was at 38.6% in 2006.

In 2020, we hope voters encourage women of all ages to register to vote and participate in their local governments. It is these women whose stories will be told in another 100 years by their future children and daughters.

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