March 1, 2016

Governor Cuomo Proclaims March as Women's History Month in New York State

TOP Governor Cuomo Proclaims March as Women's...

Exhibit at State Capitol Features Women Attorneys Whose Work Has Inspired Generations of New Yorkers

Lieutenant Governor Hochul appointed to New York State Women's Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission


Governor Cuomo's Proclamation

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proclaimed March as Women's History Month in New York State and announced the opening of a new exhibit at the State Capitol which celebrates and recognizes the contributions of women attorneys to culture and society. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced the appointment of Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul to the New York State Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission. The Commission is responsible for a series of statewide programs that celebrate the accomplishment of women's suffrage and the central role of New Yorkers and New York State in this milestone.

"New York is not only the birthplace of the women’s rights movement – it has an incredible history of courageous women who triumphed over discrimination," said Governor Cuomo. "This new exhibit provides New Yorkers with an opportunity to reflect upon, and learn about, some of the incredible women who inspired future generations to never relent in the fight for justice and equality."

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "New York State is proud to join in the annual celebration of Women’s History Month in honor of the visionaries on whose shoulders we now stand. I encourage everyone to learn about and be inspired by the women who charted new courses and shattered ceilings, making the world a better place for generations to come."

Women's History Month was first formally observed in March 1987 and honors women whose contributions to society have helped shape history. The exhibit, Women Attorney Trailblazers in New York State, was organized and sponsored by the New York State Bar Association Committee on Women in the Law. It acknowledges the important work of ten New York attorneys who serve as role models and have paved the way for women in the legal field.

According to the Bar Association, women began gaining admission to state bars in the late 19th century, but still faced widespread discrimination through the 1960s and 1970s, when they were turned away from law firms or only offered jobs as librarians or secretaries. Applicants were also told that the quota for hiring women was filled, or that clients would be uncomfortable with a woman attorney. Still, the women featured in the exhibit and many others stood up against such bias, and their tenacity continues to teach young women that they can achieve their goals.

The women featured in the Women Attorney Trailblazers exhibit include:

  • Kate Stoneman, the first woman admitted to practice law in New York. 
  • Mary M. Lilly, the first woman attorney elected to the New York State Legislature. 
  • Jane Matilda Bolin, the first African-American woman judge in the United States. 
  • Florence Perlow Shientag, the first woman federal prosecutor in New York. 
  • Charlotte Smallwood-Cook, the first woman district attorney in New York. 
  • Shirley Adelson Siegel, who headed the state’s first Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of the New York State Attorney General.
  • Constance Baker Motley, a key civil rights lawyer and first African-American woman federal judge.
  • Maryann Saccomando Freedman, the first woman president of the New York State Bar Association. 
  • Geraldine Anne Ferraro, a U.S. Congresswoman and the first woman nominated for vice president by a major party. 
  • Judith S. Kaye, the first woman appointed to the New York Court of Appeals, and first woman Chief Judge of the State of New York.

The exhibit will be on display in the War Room of the New York State Capitol in Albany for the month of March.

New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda said, "The New York State Bar Association is pleased that Governor Cuomo has chosen to display our exhibit, 'Women Attorney Trailblazers.' It highlights the inspiring achievements of 10 extraordinary New York women, beginning with Kate Stoneman, the first woman to be admitted to practice law in New York, and continuing a century later with Judith Kaye, appointed by then Governor Mario M. Cuomo as the first woman on the Court of Appeals and the first woman Chief Judge."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "Governor Cuomo's continued commitment to further women's rights and ensure equality in New York State is to be commended, and SUNY is proud to join New York State in recognizing Women's History Month. Many of New York State's most accomplished women are graduates of our university system. This is an outstanding opportunity to honor their achievements as well as all of the women students at SUNY aiming to following in their footsteps."

In October, Governor Cuomo signed multiple pieces of legislation designed to protect and further women's equality in New York State. The new laws will help achieve pay equity, strengthen human trafficking laws and protections for domestic violence victims, and end pregnancy discrimination in all workplaces.

New York’s residents and visitors alike are invited to learn about New York women and their impact on the state and on the nation via New York’s Path Through History initiative. "Women's Rights" is one of 13 themes used to organize 500-plus heritage sites across the state. Visitors can locate sites with help from the Path Through History website.

For more information about visiting the New York State Capitol, click here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office