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Local Republicans and Democrats reflect on women's rights

BY MANDI CAROZZA | MARCH 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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As the 100th anniversary of the 1913 women’s suffrage parade nears, Republicans and Democrats reflect on what has and what still should be done in the name of women’s rights.

Both parties said there are still improvements to make since the 1913 march in Washington, D.C., an event that was instrumental in gaining women’s right to vote.

Sharon Day, co-head of the Republican National Committee, said women were beaten, tripped, and institutionalized for marching in the 1913 parade, and it is important to remember what the demonstrators did for women today.

“We need to celebrate that,” she said on Thursday, standing in front of flags reading, “You Go Girls” and “Women’s Strength.”

The Johnson County Republicans hosted the event at hotelVetro on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the anniversary.

The Republicans advertised the event as a nonpartisan celebration. One local Democrat says the Republicans should be doing more to advocate for women’s rights.

“It’s good that the Republicans are celebrating this event with words,” said Dennis Roseman, the former head of the Johnson County Democrats. “I wish they would celebrate it as much with actions.”

Mary Kate Knorr, the head of the UI College Republicans and a former Daily Iowan employee, said the Republican Party has always supported equality.

“The Republican Party has always cared about women’s suffrage, but it’s time to move on from this and focus on true issues like jobs, debt, and unemployment,” Knorr said.

Johnson County Supervisor Janelle Rettig, a Democrat, said society has made progress but discrimination against women still exists.

“People forget that our country hasn’t stopped judging people based on our characteristics,” she said. “We’re just now starting to stop judging human beings based on their gender.”

While the majority of political leaders in Johnson County are not women, Roseman said, the number of women in national government is growing.

“One of the biggest changes has been the role women played and continue to play in national government,” he said. “We have a growing number of women as senators … and it’s really quite impressive.”

Rettig said women have advanced in the past 100 years but cannot stop now.

“I think we forget that our history in this is short,” she said. “We cannot rest on our laurels.”


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