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Monumental Women: Women’s Equality Day

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This article originally appeared in a Monumental Women newsletter.


Monumental Women is excited to unveil its new virtual Five-Borough New York City Women’s Rights History Trail on August 26, 2021, Women’s Equality Day. Find the map with 150+ New York City historical* women, some famous and some not well-known, linked to locations around the City where key moments in advancing women’s rights occurred. With the goal to convey the depth and breadth of the instrumental role NYC has played in women’s rights, the map includes women from diverse generations, movements, occupations, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Through user-friendly short descriptions, people can learn more about women’s history and find sites throughout the city that they may have walked by without knowing anything about the important events that took place there. In the future, with the help of local experts and the public, Monumental Women will add women and sites to the Trail as well as physically mark sites and provide more information about the sites through an app with narration and images.
     *All women on the Trail are deceased.


To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, Monumental Women presented the first-ever Moving History Forward awards to the individuals or groups who were indispensable to the creation of their statue. The first award went to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who has been a champion from the start when a statue of women in Central Park was just a dream. Penelope Cox from the Manhattan Borough President's Office also received an award for her tireless advocacy. Former Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver received a Moving History Forward award for lifting the moratorium on new statues in Central Park. Monumental Women also awarded New York Life Insurance Company whose $500,000 matching grant was the spark that lit the fuse of fundraising appeals. The award was accepted by Heather Nesle. Another Moving History Forward award went to the firm of Beyer Blinder Belle for its invaluable work facilitating a national sculpture design competition and for providing technical services for site preparation and the monument’s installation. Those from BBB receiving the awards were Richard Southwick, Susan Baggs, and Kat Monaghan. In addition, three Girl Scout Troops — 3484, 3482, and 3746— were the recipients of Moving History Forward awards. The troop members brought joy, determination, and hard work to the fight to build a public sculpture honoring the countless diverse women who won the vote.

Looking ahead to 2022, Monumental Women will donate a 1/3-size model of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument to the New York State Museum in Albany. The model will be received by Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton from the Museum.

MONUMENTAL WOMEN MERCH will be available on its website starting in September. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise will support its Women's History education programs and projects.

Remarking on the one-year anniversary of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, Pam Elam, Board President of Monumental Women, said: “Last August 26th, Monumental Women highlighted the unveiling of our Women's Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park. This August 26th, Monumental Women highlights the unveiling of our virtual NYC Women's Rights History Trail through all five boroughs. I'm excited to see what we come up with next to increase the awareness of and appreciation for Women's History.”

Brenda Berkman, a MW Board Vice President and retired FDNY Captain, said this about the new virtual five-borough NYC Women’s Rights History Trail: “In 2021, Monumental Women has worked hard to fulfill its core missions of educating the public about women’s history and honoring more women and people of color in public spaces — first with its Toolkit to help other groups and now with the unveiling of our five-borough NYC Women’s Rights History Trail. We want everyone to explore the Trail and share it!”

“I knew the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument was historic,” said Namita Luthra, a MW Board Vice President. “But what I hadn’t guessed is how far a 36-ton, 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture would stretch. New Yorkers and park visitors expanded it in extraordinary ways — transforming it into a makeshift memorial for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she passed away last September, covering the signpost in “I Voted” stickers on November 3rd, and using it as a backdrop for two Mayoral candidates’ press conferences over the summer underscoring women not only as voters but in the arena as candidates. As our recent work demonstrates, far from being done, Monumental Women is just getting started.”