[StBernard] Celebrating the contributions of Louisianas women leaders

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Mar 19 23:16:23 EDT 2007

Celebrating the contributions of Louisiana's women leaders
A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

During Women's History Month, we celebrate the vision, influence and power of Louisiana women and their dramatic impact on the political, economic and social fabric of our state.

We've come a long way since 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. That's when a brave woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and said "All men and women are created equal."

A woman's right to vote wouldn't come in Stanton's lifetime, but it would come in my mother's lifetime. In 1920, a man in Tennessee cast the deciding vote to pass the Constitutional Amendment allowing women the vote. He did this because he knew if he didn't, his mama wouldn't let him come home to dinner! Some things don't change.

In the very short time period of the lifespan of our mothers - we've seen women in this country make tremendous strides. There is no doubt the political landscape in America, and in Louisiana, is shifting. It's becoming more inclusive, more dynamic - and I think we can all agree - far more interesting!

I recently hosted the second gathering of Louisiana Women Leaders with my Office on Women's Policy, the Louisiana Commission on Women's Policy & Research and the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus. My friend Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas joined me and other women leaders from across our state to take stock of our progress and identify ways to keep women involved in the decision making processes that guide Louisiana.

Today, women are in positions of authority like never before. But, as so many women across our state know, it's still uncharted turf when women take office for the first time.

Generations of Louisiana women have left their mark. Elayn Hunt made history as the first female Secretary of Corrections. When she became president of the Southern University System, Dr. Delores Spikes became the first woman in the country to lead a university system. Melinda Schwegmann led Louisiana as our first female Lieutenant Governor and Mary Landrieu continues her service as our first female U.S. Senator.

Women like Reverend Mary Moody of Baton Rouge lead congregations and serve as powerful voices in our communities. Rita Benson Leblanc leads the New Orleans Saints off the field as Owner and Executive Vice President of Administration. Former Congresswoman and U.S. Ambassador Lindy Boggs and her daughter, national news correspondent Cokie Roberts, are a mother-daughter duo who makes Louisiana proud.

As our state's first woman Governor, I remind our young women that the road to success has been paved by the generations who have opened doors and broken through glass ceilings - and now you have a seat at the table. Remember this as we celebrate Women's History Month. Women have come a long way, but it's up to you to carry this torch into the future.


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