Women’s Leadership Institute: A CALL TO ACTION
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- On November 3, 2020, eligible voters will have the privilege to cast their vote to elect those running for various positions, including the President of the United States. This privilege has not always been available to us and many fought hard so our voices could be heard. We owe unmeasurable gratitude to the men and women who struggled, sacrificed and died so that we could have the right to vote. Because of their commitment, it is essential that we participate in the electorate. Just last month we commemorated the 100-year anniversary of Women’s Suffrage and lauded the accomplishments of some of the suffragettes who advocated for women to vote. It should be noted that we cannot celebrate women’s suffrage without acknowledging how accounts of those early efforts devalued the contributions of Black women. We cannot help but recognize the ongoing challenges we continue to encounter as we strive to end discriminatory laws, policies, and practices that keep Black Americans from participating in our democracy. Today aggressive efforts to suppress votes have resulted in hours-long lines, erratic changes in polling places, malfunctioning voting equipment and a host of despicable practices designed to impact our voting power. The Women’s Leadership Institute believes when all who are eligible exercise their right to vote, democracy wins. On that premise alone the Women’s Leadership Institute has been prompted to advocate for a level playing field, and to make voter education a priority. We viewed the centennial of the nineteenth amendment as an opportunity to reflect on the power of raising our voices, organizing and persisting until we see significant structural change in our country. The Women’s Leadership Institute has picked up the mantle to assure that we do not forget the value of this civic engagement and the importance of leadership development. The Women’s Leadership Institute’s charge to our members is to encourage citizens to vote with conscious awareness, appreciation, respect and remembrance of Black women who marshalled their resources in pursuit of voting rights. The struggle for women to gain the right to vote was long and arduous, and in many ways that fight continues today. The attack on voting opportunities by some members of the federal government is a grim reminder that having a constitutional right does not mean exercising that right comes easily or that all obstacles disappear. Women’s Leadership Institute emphasizes the importance of safeguarding the right to vote. Our current emphasis is focused on helping citizens understand their rights and responsibilities as voters. Voter education and information are critical elements in building voters’ confidence and Women’s Leadership Institute has been strategic and proactive in providing information on how to vote, how the overall system works, and methods to ensure the system’s integrity. Women’s Leadership Institute has reached out in a continuous effort to add new people to the voter registration rolls, educate voters about election issues, encouraging new and unlikely voters to cast their ballots, correcting misinformation and ensuring that intimidation will not inhibit people from voting. Women’s Leadership Institute considers their base not simply as volunteers to mobilize the number of voters from underrepresented and disenfranchised communities for the current election, but as an empowering process with impact long into the future 2020 has been a challenging year compounded by a global pandemic that exposed the wounds of our country still reeling from inequity and injustice. Women’s Leadership Institute realizes that it is critical for our collective survival to commit to active participation in civic engagement in making a “more perfect union” as so many politicians convey in their campaign statements. As we recognize milestones, we must view them as pivotal moments to foster a call to action and to be vigilant in honoring the contributions of generations before, but to continue until the course of history reflects civil liberties for all. About the Women’s Leadership Institute The Women’s Leadership Institute was established to provide a dynamic platform for programs addressing the unique leadership needs of women and girls, supportive of their ongoing advancement through education, collaboration, transformative dialogue, contextual coaching, to promote gender equity and acumen for change.