This past weekend, the Women‚Äôs Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York put on Convention Days. Convention Days is held annually in honor of the 1848 Women‚Äôs Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. This year has special significance because 2017 marks 100 years since women in New York State achieved the right to vote.
I went to Convention Days on Saturday and got to experience two of the things that drew me to the event in the first place. The first wa keynote speaker Elizabeth Nyamayaro. Nyamayaro is the Senior Advisor to Unider-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women. She also is the Global Head of the HeForShe Initiative. I have followed the HeForShe movement ever since Emma Watson‚Äôs UN speech in September 2014 and was thrilled to listen to Ms. Nyamayaro speak.
In the morning Park Superintendent Ami Ghazala welcomed all attendees. There was a proclamation of Indigenous Women‚Äôs Day, which included the Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers from the Iroquois Confederacy.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube in period costume) read the Declaration of Sentiments, and it was a powerful thing to listen to. We all stood in the spot where hundreds of radical (for their time) women and men gathered to sign the Declaration 169 years ago. I stood there as a young woman who is able to vote and take part in daily life without restraint. I felt keenly aware of my privilege and more resolved than ever to use it to try and help people however I could.
After Stanton, Nadia Shahram read a Declaration of Equalities¬†for Muslim women. Shahram and her university students had compiled a document for Muslim women worldwide. Modeled on Elizabeth Cady Stanton‚Äôs Declaration of Sentiments, the Muslim Declaration fo Equalities advocated for self-determination for all women. Shahram called for the end of ‚Äòhonor‚Äô killings at the hands of male family members and swift prosecution of crimes against women. She also called for greater access to education and the opportunity for women to achieve intellectual growth. Her final points argued for equal rights to citizenship and gender-neutral inheritance laws.
After the morning speeches and Nyamayaro‚Äôs keynote speech on HeForShe, I decided to walk to Elizabeth Cady Stanton‚Äôs house. The house was recently opened for the summer season and Dr. Grube was there as Stanton. I learned more about Stanton and the suffrage movement from Grube than I learned from writing a paper in college.
This was the first time I’ve attended Convention Days, and I‚Äôm kicking myself for having this event so near to me every year and not having gone until now. It was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and I‚Äôm glad I went. Hopefully I will be back next year.
Girl Museum Inc.