Almost 100 years ago on August 26th, 1920 women in the United States of America earned the right to vote after the ratification of the 19th amendment. To celebrate this landmark, and some of the exceptional women who helped shape Muscatine into the city we know today, Muscatine Women of Influence and Inspiration (MWII) will dive into the biographies of several remarkable former Muscatine residents.
Earlier this year, Jean Clark, Kristine Conlon, Cindi Kautz, Jacque McCoy, Sharon Savage, and Mary Wildermuth came together to create MWII. Kautz shared that she first came up with the idea for the project after attending a lunch and presentation given in February by Sue Johansen of the League of Women Voters.
As Kautz shared her idea to honor Muscatine women in this anniversary year and others joined her, they began brainstorming a list of possible people to feature. After compiling a list of around fifty notable women, they began narrowing them down based on their achievements and the different periods of history they represented. Eventually they selected to lift up around twelve women and plan to feature one or a pair each month. “We are continuing to be surprised and impressed that these women from our small community . . . were so modern and inspirational,” shared Kautz. “The common thread seems to be highly educated women who went on to be successful,” she added.
With the women to honor selected, MWII will feature their stories in a variety of ways. Over the course of the year, video biographies of each woman will appear on MPW cable channel nine, as well as on YouTube. MWII will also run a monthly article on each woman selected in Discover Muscatine newspaper to give an in-depth look at her life. At the end of the project, the group has even considered writing a book, compiling the exceptional lives of these noteworthy Muscatine residents in one place for posterity to enjoy.
At the heart of its mission, the MWII looks to honor women who made a difference in times when society did not expect it of them and who helped to advance women’s rights across the country. As people who experienced major leaps in women’s rights in their lifetimes (various MWII members remember gaining the rights to sign a contract, take out a credit card, and not have gender specific curfews in college)the MWII’s founders believe the examples these women set will continue to inspire people to reach for lofty goals and continue to work for greater equality in society.
As the MWII comes to life, its organizers would like to thank local artist Chris Anderson for helping design their logo and Chad Bishop for helping them produce their video content.