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For release on delivery
1:00 p.m. EDT (12:00 p.m. CDT)
August 19, 2020

Brief Remarks

by
Michelle W. Bowman
Member
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
at
Outstanding Women of Kansas Awards Ceremony

Topeka, Kansas

August 19, 2020

Thank you to the 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Committee for the
honor of being included among these distinguished awardees, whose achievements have
done so much for our state and our nation.
We are here today because of the tireless efforts of brave women—including
Kansas women—demanding that men and women have an equal right to vote and shape
their destiny. The suffragettes didn’t only achieve something for women. Through their
efforts, our country became a stronger democracy by extending the full opportunity for
women to be counted and to take part in the political process.
The passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 enabled women to directly
participate in selecting our country’s leaders. It paved the way for women to take part on
equal terms, including by serving as leaders themselves. None of us singled out today
would be here without the extraordinary efforts of those who secured the vote for women.
In my case, it was serving as Kansas’s first female State Bank Commissioner, and the
first person to serve on the Federal Reserve Board in the role designated by Congress for
someone with community banking experience. The sacrifice and persistence of those
women more than a century ago set an example for future generations of women and
allows our daughters to dream that anything is possible with hard work, commitment, and
determination.
That legacy has deep roots in Kansas. As many here know, in 1861, Kansas
granted women a limited right to vote in school district elections; and, by 1867, Kansas
became the first U.S. state to hold a statewide referendum on women’s suffrage. Even
though this first referendum was defeated, it reflected and contributed to a new way of
thinking about what it meant to be a woman and citizen. In 1887, Kansas elected the first

-2female mayor in America. And in 1912, Kansas became the eighth state to approve
women’s voting rights in all elections. I could not be more proud of my Kansas heritage.
The participation of women in the political and policymaking process brings a
broader perspective. Throughout my career, and as an attorney and a public servant, I
have found that the inclusion of individuals with a broad range of experiences deepens
our understanding of the issues and results in better discussions and more thoughtful
decisionmaking.
In my current role, I bring the perspective of someone from a small, rural,
agricultural community, who has worked as a community banker and as a state regulator.
Those aren’t typical experiences for a Fed policymaker. This diversity is a strength, as
Congress recognized by creating a role on the Federal Reserve Board designated for
someone with community banking experience. I am the first to serve in this capacity, and
I strongly believe that our economic and financial system is strengthened when we
consider the implications of our regulatory decisions for bankers on Main Street as well
as on Wall Street.
I approach our monetary policy deliberations in a similar way. Our actions in
response to the recent pandemic have clearly benefited from this perspective, as we
understand how the varying state and local approaches have affected economic
conditions across the nation.
In closing, it is appropriate that during this election season we honor the women
who secured that right, first in Kansas, and then through their campaign to ratify the 19th
amendment. The greatest tribute to those women, and the best way to honor their legacy,
is to vote. Another way is through public service, and I would strongly encourage all—

-3but in particular women—to consider serving in government at the local, state, or federal
level. It is the most challenging, but by far the most rewarding work that I have done,
and I hope you will consider serving as well.
Thank you again for this honor.