On August 18, 2020 at 7 PM, Democrats Abroad Switzerland held the first of two events in Zürich this month, honoring the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States. This small outdoor event took place in the park between Badenerstrasse and Zweierstrasse, 8004 Zürich, near Stauffacher. It brought together American and Swiss women, including several political office holders, to honor this moment. Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Frauenstimmrecht in Switzerland. This event brought American and Swiss women together for this reason.
On August 18, 1920, the Tennessee legislature voted in Nashville, the state capital, to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, becoming the 36th and final state necessary to guarantee voting rights for women after a hard-fought battle that lasted 72 years. Bells rang all over the country when the news reached them, to celebrate. Ironically, in Nashville, no bells rang.
This month, to commemorate the centennial of this event, there were bells ringing at noon in Nashville TN. At the same time, at 7 PM in Zürich, a small group of Swiss and American activists came together at an outdoor event to ring their own bells and state what voting rights mean to them as women and citizens of two of the oldest existing democracies.
The event followed this plan:
- 19.00: Welcome and forming the circle of participants around the life-size bronze figure “Frau 1928” by the Swiss artist Alis Guggenheim
- A brief historical input about the events leading up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution culminating in confirming voting rights for women on August 18, 1920 in Nashville, Tennessee, presented by the American, Zürich-based historian Dr. Maura Doherty
- Brief statements by each of the Swiss and American women in the circle on “what the right to vote means to me”
- Ringing bells by the participants, this will be simultaneous with people and institutions in Nashville, TN (noon, August 18)
- Closing remarks c. 20.00
In the United States, the right for all to vote and to participate in political life came not from the Constitution itself but from a series of hard-fought amendments and ground-breaking legislation.
To commemorate two major achievements in this march towards full democracy—the Centennial of the 19th Amendment and the 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act—Democrats Abroad Switzerland is launching a series of social media posts that present key aspects of the narrative leading to the ratification of the 19th amendment and the struggles to enfranchise people of color.
The posts will run from 19 July to 26 August 2020. They will be posted daily to Democrats Abroad Switzerland’s Facebook and Instagram feeds as well as our website. Please like, comment on, and share the steps of this still-incomplete journey to universal suffrage. Most importantly, request your ballot now and mobilize your personal community of expats to do so, too!
Democrats Abroad Switzerland thanks Dr. Maura Doherty for her assistance with this project. Dr. Maura Doherty is a historian who has taught in Higher Education for decades in the United States and in Switzerland. She recently appeared as the guest historian in the BBC celebrity genealogy series "Who Do You Think You Are?" alongside Sharon Osbourne. She is currently writing a book about the history of her hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Design talent came from working in coordination with Vote Like a Woman, a nonpartisan campaign honoring the first 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment by getting more Americans who identify as women to vote.