Elizabeth Arden. Diane Arbus. Maya Lin. What do these famous women have in common? They all led or are leading extraordinary lives marked by achievement and trailblazing, and they have all called the East Side home.
Arden is best known for her beauty products, but was also very active in the suffrage movement. Arbus’ photography is celebrated for her focus on marginalized people and communities – many of them in New York City. Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and continues to work in New York City. Throughout the city, females outnumber males by 400,000.
These women also have something else in common: None of them have ever been the subject of an exhibit at the National Women’s History Museum — because it doesn’t exist.
This Congress, I was joined by my Republican colleague Rep. Marsha Blackburn in introducing H.R. 863, which hopefully will lead to the creation of a National Women’s History Museum, on the National Mall, in Washington D.C.
In a departure from all the partisan bickering, members of both parties have come together to support this legislation. It has 88 co-sponsors, a companion bill in the Senate, and recently we received the public support of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who promised a vote on the bill later in the year, as well as the backing of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
H.R. 863 would create a commission that would be tasked with finding a specific location for the museum on the National Mall. The commission would also be responsible for identifying a private revenue stream, so that no taxpayer money will be needed.
Women’s history is absent from many textbooks, memorials, exhibits and other venues. Of the 210 statues in the United States Capitol, only nine are of female leaders. Less than five percent of the 2,400 national historic landmarks chronicle women’s achievement and a recent survey of 18 history textbooks found that only 10 percent of the individuals identified in the text were women.
H.R. 863 would help set the record straight.
Maloney represents the 12th congressional district.
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