State Senate takes step on path to Women’s Rights Trail

Chris Van Buskirk | State House News Service | April 12, 2022

BOSTON — An educational trail would be created connecting locations around Massachusetts related to the fight for women’s rights, under legislation that cleared the state Senate on Thursday.

Senators added new sections to the bill (H 4555), a version of which the House approved on a 154-0 vote in March. The new language would include women veterans on the trail and start the path at the State House.

Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, an original co-sponsor of the legislation, said the proposal promotes education and awareness around the obstacles faced in achieving women’s rights in Massachusetts.

“Each year thousands of tourists visit Boston to walk the Freedom Trail to learn about the founding of our nation, and walk in the history of our Founding Fathers and mothers,” Lovely said. “But in the words of Abigail Adams, we must ‘remember the ladies.’”

The bill punts work needed to make the bill’s goal a reality to a Women’s Rights History Trail Task Force that would research, solicit public input, and make recommendations for sites, properties, and attractions to be included in a women’s rights history trail program.

The executive director of the Office of Travel and Tourism and secretary of transportation are required to implement that program.

That task force would be led by the chairs of the Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Committee, currently Sen. Edward J. Kennedy and Rep. Carole A. Fiola. The group’s recommendations would be due by March 1, 2023.

Lovely said Massachusetts has a rich history of involvement in the women’s rights movement — from holding the 1850 National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester to having women in the state elected to local school committees more than 10 years before earning the right to vote for those school committees in 1879.

“When women did win the right to vote in those limited local elections, Louisa May Alcott was the first woman to register in her town of Concord,” Lovely said. “The history of these women is our history, a history we are still advancing.”

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