Fort McCoy News September 13, 2013

Women's Equality speaker promotes good citizenship

STORY & PHOTO BY GENEVE N. MANKEL
Public Affairs Staff

U.S citizenship is a full-time, year-round occupation that shouldn't be reserved for elections, said Andrea Kaminski, the guest speaker at Fort McCoy's observance of Women's Equality Day.

Citizens should be responsible for being well-informed on political issues that affect themselves, their Family and community. Kaminski is the executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network.

Photo for Women's Equality article
Andrea Kaminski, the guest speaker at Fort McCoy's Aug. 27
observance of Women's Equality Day, addresses a Fort McCoy
audience about the importance of being an informed and responsible citizen.

Women's Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, which granted women full voting rights in 1920.

"Think of the challenges those women (suffragists) had before them," Kaminski said. "They had to convince members of Congress and state legislatures that the right thing to do was to pass the amendment," she said.

The League of Women Voters is a National organization that was founded six months prior to the passing of the 19th Amendment. For 93 years the League has held that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. The League continues the struggle to make elections free, fair and accessible to all qualified citizens, Kaminski said.

"People have struggled to win and protect the right to vote, and it must never be taken for granted," she said.

The daughter of two World War II veterans, Kaminski was taught at an early age about patriotism and about the importance of being a good citizen.

"I grew up in a bipartisan Family that had good civic discussions and where political views were discussed openly," she said.

The League is much like her childhood Family. It is a non-partisan group that advocates for informed and active participation in government, and whose membership includes females and males, Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

"We do not support a political party or candidate," she said. "We provide unbiased candidate information through educational forums and voter guides to help people be informed citizens."

The League, however, does take positions on policy issues, but only after members have had a chance to study and look at all sides of an issue and then reach a consensus on a position, Kaminski said.

The League's broad advocacy agenda affects all citizens.

It includes voting rights, redistricting, and impartial courts, as well as issues that are more women-centric such as marital property reform, equal pay, and Family policy.

Kaminksi said it's important that women vote on these issues because 60 percent of the U.S. work force is female and 70 percent of mothers with children younger than 18 years old are in the work force. She also stated that women's income is 82 percent of what men earn, and, although that number has increased since the 1970s, progress still is needed.

Women also need to run for political office, she said. Only 18 percent of the current Congress is female and 25 percent of the Wisconsin Legislature is female.

"I hope you share my vision and the League's vision of a nation of engaged citizens who care about their communities and country and actively participate in government, because it's our government; a government of the people, by the people and for the people," she said.