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Viewpoint: Idaho is celebrating 100 years of women's right to vote all year long

To mark the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the Idaho State Historical Society and Idaho Women in Leadership are leading an initiative called "Idaho Women 100."

BOISE, Idaho — The state of Idaho is celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage with exhibits and events all year long.

On August 18, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote.

Its wording gets right to the point.

It says "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

To mark the 100th anniversary, the Idaho State Historical Society and Idaho Women in Leadership are leading an initiative called "Idaho Women 100."

Idaho State Historical Society Executive Director Janet Gallimore says, as with most of the Society's initiatives, they use history as a bridge to the future.

"The goal of this initiative is to advance women's leadership in the future in terms of education, politics, business, the arts, all different disciplines, and to encourage women to vote," Gallimore said.

Of course, it also celebrates the past.

Here are a few of the public events going on in 2020:

- Right now you can visit the "Idaho's First First Family" exhibit in Statuary Hall in the State Capitol Building.
- In the garden level of the Statehouse now through April is "Miss Fletcher's Botany Expedition."
- At the State Archives visitors can check out the "Women in Government" free exhibit. This is one of four rotating exhibits that will be presented at the State Archives throughout the year.
- The big kick-off for the "Idaho Women 100" initiative is March 13 at noon on the State Capitol Steps.
- There will also be a concurrent resolution declaring Idaho Women's Day.
- In June, The book "Numbered" will be available. It tells the stories of women inmates at the Old Penitentiary.

But did you know women in Idaho could vote long before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920? Idaho approved a state constitutional amendment in 1896 giving women the right to vote here.

"Moving out to the West and knowing that the landscape and the existence here in this area was rugged and hard, women had the opportunity to exist within the family structure and within the community structure here that they maybe did not have on the East Coast or even in the Great Plains area," Idaho State Historian HannaLore Hein said. "So I think that had a lot to do with why women got the vote in the West first. We had been doing the work and it was recognized."

Idaho was the fourth state to give women the right to vote and the first to do it by constitutional amendment.

Click here for more on "Idaho Women 100."

On this Sunday's Viewpoint, KTVB's Doug Petcash also discusses the big role Idaho women played in the national women's suffrage movement, and how you can get involved in the "Idaho Women 100" initiative.

Viewpoint is Sunday morning at 6:30 on KTVB.

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