To mark the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States, Pasatiempo asked four politically engaged women in New Mexico to address the following question: “What if women had never gotten the vote?” Their answers convey both the beautiful potential of participatory democracy as well as its inherent shortcomings.

“Women have the right to vote, but what has our world come to with that right? Who are we electing? What choices do women have? We don’t have a woman president. (We will, someday.) Look at what we’re voting for: two misogynistic people — the current president and the possible president. Have we elected the people who really serve the people? Perhaps now, on this date, we can look at what this vote really means. Can we vote for peace? Can we vote for the end of war? Can we vote to take children out of refugee camps? I wish that women would rise up and really take that vote to heart and to spirit.”

—Denise Chavez, author and owner of

Casa Camino Real Book Store & Art Gallery, Las Cruces, New Mexico

“There are many days when I think we still live in a world where women’s voices don’t matter. Although women make up almost 51 percent of the population in the United States, we continue to fight to ensure our rights and the issues that affect us are taken into consideration. Women in the United States still do not have equal rights under the Constitution. But our votes do count. When we vote, we change the course of history. If women couldn’t vote, we would not have the leadership we’re seeing now in Congress: diverse, passionate, feisty, and fierce women who understand the ways economic, social, and biological issues intersect our lives as women.”

—Cecile Lipworth, founder, Ripple Catalyst Studio

“Women are the backbone to every community. If women couldn’t vote, reproductive rights, education, employment, and business ownership would be completely out of our hands. The ability for a woman to have ownership of land or home would not be possible. Often ‘leaders’ continue to serve their own agendas by enacting voting restrictions, engaging in fraud, and marginalizing people of color and those with low income. The challenges we still face as Native women in 2020 are numerous and often overwhelming. It is critical that we continue this fight for our rights.”

—Paula Mirabal, Taos Pueblo, co-director/co-founder,

We Are the Seeds

“It’s almost unfathomable to think of the United States as a place where women did not have the right to vote in the past 100 years. Even crazier to believe it took as long as it did to give women the right to vote! Women were deemed as second class, almost nonhuman. Where would we be if that continued? Giving women the right to vote means women’s participation in all other aspects of an equal society. We continue to see the incredible strides we make when women participate. I would argue that women’s involvement has fundamentally advanced the progress made in the evolution of our political life, our social lives, and economic opportunities. (Ahem. Equal pay, please!)”

—Rep. Andrea Romero, Democrat, New Mexico House, District 46

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