March is Women’s History Month in the United States, a period of reflection and commemoration of important women’s movements and the contributions women have made and continue to make in our country. Women’s History Month coincides with International Women’s Day on March 8, which dates back to the early 1900s, right in the midst of the women’s rights movement and the fight for women’s suffrage.
Imagine for a moment if in today’s society, women could not be elected to public office or even vote—that’s half of the American people with the inability to speak their voices and effect change. Women’s suffrage is certainly one of the most significant movements of our history, establishing this equal right across our populace.
Ohio became the 6th state to ratify the 19th amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, on June 16, 1919. Just over a year later, the amendment was officially incorporated into the United States Constitution. Because of this momentous change, six women were elected to Ohio’s 85th General Assembly for the very first time in 1922. Since then, over 150 women have served in this capacity, paving the way for women to have an equal voice and standing in the government, workplace, and community.
The Ohio Statehouse has a special room dedicated to those first six women who legislated in its hallowed halls. The Ladies’ Gallery not only commemorates these trailblazers, but it also honors all women who have served in the Ohio House or Senate, many of whom I have had the honor to work beside and collaborate with on legislation. The room seeks to teach and encourage all visitors to the Ohio Statehouse to know their history and to be active in their democracy and communities.
The next time you visit the Ohio Statehouse, I recommend paying a visit to this room to discover a little more about Ohio and women’s history. Their histories intertwine, as women have had such an integral part of the founding and development of our state and country. Women’s History Month helps to study and promote this important relationship.
State Representative Mike Henne’s office is located at 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215. Phone (614) 644-8051, Fax (614) 719-3590.