An Open Letter

Originally Published in the FALL 2020 | SPRINT 2021 EDITION of the Women Contacts (Printed Directory)


Women and their allies have been fighting for the right to vote from Abigail Adams sending a letter to her husband John in 1776, in which she admonished him to “remember the ladies;” to Mary Church Terrell proclaiming in 1902 to, “Lift as we climb…we knock at the bar of justice, asking for an equal chance;” to Alice Paul declaring in 1920, “It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won…..It is just beginning;” and to Deb Haaland affirming in 2020, “Voting is sacred.”


While voting has centered the women’s rights movement for literally hundreds of years, the struggle has not solely been about the right to vote.  Women have fought just as long and just as hard to make their vote count. The right to vote means nothing if governing officials fail to count your ballot. The right to vote means nothing if your district is gerrymandered. The right to vote means nothing if your advocacy for justice is silenced by money.  And so, for years and years women have fought to vote and then fought for fair elections, redistricting reform, and removing money from politics.  This is also the feminist agenda.


Considering this history, you may ask: “Is voting still worth the time, effort, and heartbreak?” Yes.  While it may seem counterintuitive, we cannot ensure ballots are accurately counted unless we persist and vote. We cannot stop political bosses from rigging our election maps with gerrymandered districts unless we persist and vote. And we will never amplify the people’s voices to resonate as loudly as special interests unless we persist and vote. To accomplish these goals, voting is the necessary first step. But, also, to be fully effective, casting a ballot must be tightly bound to demands that all women have the option to run for office, manage campaigns, sponsor ballot initiatives, and engage in allyship that guarantees every voice is heard.


Voting is step one and then we will demand reconstructive legislation that promotes transparency and accountability in government.  Voting is step one and then we will expose the institutional systems that undermine sustainable communities.  Voting is step one and then we will see every individual as someone striving for self-determination in ways held sacred since before 1776.  Voting is step one and then we will center equity and uplift the women who bear the burden of misogyny and a hydra of bigotry.


No doubt, this upcoming election will tax our precious time researching candidates and ballot questions, but we need women to take the first step and vote. And then when the election is over, we can organize to facilitate steps two, three, four, five, and as many steps as it takes to achieve equity, promote direct democracy, and to reconstruct our systems to ensure self-determination for every, single, person. If we the people remain silent, however, the social foundation that safeguards safety and inclusion will continue to crumble under out feet.  This is a fact.


Please, take step one and vote. I promise to show up to contribute to the work on the other side of election day.