Celebrating women's rights in Sandusky

SANDUSKY Nearly 160 years ago, a group of women frustrated with their circumstances decided to speak
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



Nearly 160 years ago, a group of women frustrated with their circumstances decided to speak up.

The result was the first women's rights convention and the signing of a declaration in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

By the time women achieved national victory in 1920, however, only one of the declaration's signers had survived to cast her ballot.

Today, women continue to fight for equality -- but the battles are less obvious, a local woman says.

By hosting a public celebration in honor of women, Jan Carver Young said she and her sisters hope to bridge the gaps between the past and present.

"For the younger generation of women, who were born into world with the right to vote, there's ageneral feeling we've arrived -- but because it's a more subtle problem now, it's more difficult to eradicate," Carver Young said.

Carver Young, a retired English teacher, said she and her sisters, Molly Carver and Patricia Callan, were inspired to host a convention in Sandusky after watching a Ken Burns documentary about the Seneca Falls Convention.

They plan to open the July 19 event with an introduction to the history of women's rights, followed by local guest speakers.

Speakers include Ginger Packert, history instructor at EHOVE Career Center and Firelands BGSU; Sue Daugherty, director of Serving our Seniors; Linda Mitchell, director of Safe Harbour Domestic Violence Shelter; Stephanie Alexander-Johnson of the Sandusky NAACP; former Sandusky police chief Kim Nuesse; and Erie County Teen Pregnancy Prevention coordinator Kay Gilbert.

Carver said they also hope to increase the public's awareness of women's rights and drive them to take action.

"We'll give basic suggestions of things people can do now, such as registering to vote, voting and encouraging others to vote and supporting women's businesses," she said.

"They can also become more aware of the subtle prejudices our society instills without even knowing about it."

Unlike the early women's rights advocates, who were so desperate to gain the right to vote that at one point they distanced themselves from the movement to free slaves, Carver said today's women must remain united in championing their causes.

"We are all sisters and need to always remember that -- we're all in this together," she said.

Serving our Seniors Executive Director Sue Daugherty, who plans to speak at the event, said she has witnessed various forms of discrimination against the elderly, particularly women.

Control over money and spousal abuse, whether physical or emotional, are all issues which can become quietly perpetuated in society, she said.

"Unfortunately, our country has had a philosophy that there's a place for women," Daugherty said, "and if we don't remind our society that someone else once defined for us what our place is as a woman, we hand over the power. Discrimination of any kind is appalling, and to ignore this opportunity to speak only furthers the agenda of those who choose to further silent discrimination."