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A bi-partisan group of lawmakers wants more statues of women in Washington

women statues
Posted at 9:09 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 12:09:12-04

When tour guide Terry Cordaro walks around Washington, D.C., she does her best to explain to visitors from all over the world to importance and significance of the monuments which are a vital part of this city's identity. But here in the citadel of democracy, there is a thing Cordaro sees very little of, statues paying homage to women.

As a tour guide for USA Guided Tours, Cordaro has spent more than 20 years showing people around the nation's Capitol.

"Buildings here in the city would be lifeless without these statues," Cordaro said while standing next to a statue of Jane Delano outside the Red Cross headquarters.

Here in Washington, D.C., Jane Delano is one of only a few statues dedicated to women. Delano, a relative of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is credited with creating the American Red Cross nursing division.

"She has this cloak on and it shows her coming as a welcoming presence to people who need to be helped," Cordaro explained as she walked around the memorial.

None of the 44 memorials in D.C. maintained by the National Parks Service, specifically focuses on females, which makes Jane Delano's statue all the more important.

"It’s a reflection of our society has been in the past. It was the traditional way. Women had a quieter role. They weren’t given a voice,” Cordaro said. “We need to tell the story how it really is. We need to set good role models for young girls and young men as well, show them that these women are leaders as well. We need to respect them and honor their traditions.”

Across the country, it’s a similar story. There are an estimated 5,100 statues on display nationwide. Only 394 of them depict women.

But Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, is trying to change the status quo.

"It is about women’s leadership and women who have been overlooked," Klobuchar said in a recent interview.

In a rare, bi-partisan effort, Sen. Klobuchar is leading the charge for change, introducing a bill that would call for monuments of both Ruth Bader Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor to be put inside the Capitol. While the bill is specifically tailored toward the Capitol, Sen. Klobuchar hopes it creates conversations in communities nationwide about adding more statues and monuments, to honor different women.

"We’re supposed to be setting the tenor for the country and I think it will make people think about this differently. Imagine what the little girls think who come to the Capitol," the senator added.

More than 20 senators, including more than a dozen Democrats and three Republicans, are on board with the proposed bill. The legislation will also be introduced in the House in the coming weeks before it likely gets a vote.

"There’s every reason to believe we will be adding more of these statues, but we better get started because we have a lot of history to make up for," Klobuchar said.