TRENTON, N.J. – Recognizing the important role women play in their communities and politics, a joint resolution (AJR90/SJR65), sponsored by Assemblywomen Serena DiMaso and Holly Schepisi, designating March 19 as “Women in Public Office Day” was signed into law last week.
“As we come upon the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, I reflect on how far we have come and how much there is still to accomplish. It’s both overwhelming and inspiring,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “It’s time we recognize women in public office for all their contributions and support other women who aspire to represent their communities.”
The Republican Party pioneered the right of women to vote and was the first major party to advocate equal rights for women and the principle of equal pay for equal work. In 1919, Congress, which was controlled by Republicans, passed the Equal Suffrage Amendment to give women the right to vote. When it was submitted to the states to be ratified, 26 of the 36 states that did so also had Republican legislatures.
“I want to recognize the women who blazed the trail for me, all the bright and talented women I currently serve with and all those who have yet to take the leap into public office,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “My very first job in government was working for Congresswoman Marge Roukema and I was fortunate to take the place of Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk. Throughout my career, women have and will continue to work to make a difference in the lives of all our residents.”
The first women in New Jersey’s legislature, Republican Assemblywomen Jennie Van Ness of East Orange and Margaret Laird of Newark, were elected in 1920. The first female Speaker in New Jersey was Republican Marion West Higgins of Hillsdale. With the addition of Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Morris), New Jersey’s Legislature now has 38 women – the greatest number of women legislators in state history.
The day, which will be held in March because it is dedicated to women’s history, helps brings awareness to the fundamental necessity of women’s work in a male-dominated field.