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August 26th will mark 101 years of women’s suffrage in the United States and is now celebrated as Women’s Equality Day. While the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls recognizes the critical role activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton played in the suffrage movement; we would also like to highlight the roles Black, Indigenous, Latina and Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, including Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, played in the fight for suffrage and to call out the racism of the white middle-class women who prioritized their enfranchisement over that of all women. 

Women’s suffrage was essential, but we must recognize it was grounded in white supremacy and is only one step in women gaining political power. From #MeToo to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, women continue to lift barriers, leading across race, identities, and life experiences. Above all, women lead differently – bringing empathy, creativity, and thoughtfulness to entire communities. The power of women’s leadership is indeed undeniable and unmatched. 

As we celebrate women’s leadership this month, the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls is elated and honored to welcome Nikki Pitre, the Executive Director of the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute, as co-chair of the Forum alongside Anne Mosle and Peggy Clark. Nikki (whose Indian name is khwhele’, meaning Meadow Lark) is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Red Bird Clan. A fearless voice in the gender equity space, Nikki invests, listens to, and uplifts Indigenous women’s leadership and priorities in all the work she does, particularly with CNAY’s Remembering Our Sisters Fellowship program.

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