By Darleen Allen
In 1895, long before women’s suffrage, the architects and designers of the Rhode Island Statehouse had a vision for the top of the dome. They created the Independent Woman. She represented hope and justice. The statehouse commission rejected the vision and eventually the Independent Man was erected.
Many of us think it is time to share her image and demand that our state becomes a place where hope and justice is realized for all in our state. Women must be SEEN and HEARD at our statehouse, in city and town halls and in every community across our beautiful state.
We have many incredible, dedicated women legislators and male allies, who worked very hard this session. They listened, they created legislation, they sat in hearings and on commissions. Numerous pieces of legislation to address common sense gun reform, fair pay, equity, reproductive health care, sexual abuse and harassment protection and statute of limitations, child trauma study and more were submitted. Hundreds of hours of hearings with many hundreds testifying in support. All of these bills were “held for further study”.
These same incredible legislators are being targeted by a well-resourced hate group. Mailings with negative and misleading information have been distributed throughout the state. These primarily women legislators are being unfairly attacked for standing up for women, children and families.
Last week was the deadline to file candidacy papers. The number of women running for offices across the state was exciting and energizing. New faces, new ideas and new commitments to transparency, integrity and representation emerged. The notion that women mattered in politics was palpable.
Then the Democratic Party released their candidate endorsements. Shocking. In numerous races across the state, the Party endorsed white male candidates with criminal records over highly qualified women. They chose a republican, Trump supporter with a criminal record over a fierce, hard-working female incumbent. They endorsed a candidate with a history of assaults against women who has also lied about his residency. So outrageous and so out of touch with the values and mission of the National Democratic Party. Absolutely not acceptable.
When a candidate is endorsed by the Party, they receive an economic advantage over the unendorsed candidate. They get free access to campaign lists and useful data that the unendorsed candidates have to pay more than a $1,000 to get access to… just to stay competitive in the race. Grossly unfair.
This has to stop.
If you believe that women’s voices need to be heard, that women deserve a place at the table, that issues that are important to us should be brought to the statehouse floor and voted on and if you are thankful to all who are fighting for the issues above, please share this updated image of the Rhode Island Independent Woman. As a leader in the RIDP Women’s Caucus, I stand with our fearless legislators and with so many courageous candidates to say enough is enough. Women will not be silenced. It is 2018 not 1895.
Please share this image on your social media. Consider changing it to your profile. Let’s show solidarity. Let’s lift up justice, fairness, integrity and hope once again.