The Bet

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voting rights for women

Somewhere in the United States of America in 1865

Jennifer felt sick. The mayor of her town was on the platform talking against women having voting rights. Men were nodding along. She looked at the women, standing with their heads hung low, sad but angry.

“Would anybody like to say something?” the mayor asked. Impulsively Jennifer replied “Yes.” All heads turned to her. The mayor, biting his tongue, said, “Yes?”. “What makes you sure that women are only capable of emotions and not intellect? What makes you sure that, if given the opportunity, women could not make an impact on the world? We need the right to vote!” she claimed, surprising even herself at what she had just done. Government officials surged forward to capture her but the mayor stopped them. “You have some nerve saying that. Fine! I’ll make a bet with you. Go around town, you have the whole day, if you get two hundred people to sign a petition for women voting rights, I’ll pass on the message to the higher authority. If not…well” he shrugged. 

Jennifer was terrified but she had to try. She visited houses, convincing people, getting looks from her fellow citizens. But she didn’t lose hope. She kept on going, getting as many signatures as she could, until late night. She returned as scheduled. Everyone held their breaths, as the mayor counted the signatures. When he was done, he announced, “ I have counted two hundred and thirty votes. However, half of these are women! Women aren’t allowed to vote. I can only count the men’s votes, which are a hundred and ten! You failed”.

Jennifer wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t disappointed either because even though she had failed, she saw the crowd change, and she knew that this was the harbinger of a new beginning.      

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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