International Women’s Day: Arabella Mansfield

Happy International Women’s Day! The 2018 campaign theme is #PressforProgress. This has never held more importance thanks to the recent momentum of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. March 8 marks a day to accelerate gender equality. Over 1 million people supported the first International Women’s Day over a century ago. This century-old tradition celebrates the achievements of women.

Arabella Mansfield

The achievements of Arabella Mansfield are worth highlighting today for International Women’s Day. Mansfield was the first female lawyer in the United States, admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869 in spite of the bar being restricted to males over the age of 21. Her husband encouraged her pursuit of this goal, so she started out as an apprentice to her brother in Washington. She passed the Iowa state bar with high scores but did not practice law, instead focusing her efforts on being a college professor and activist.

Arabella participated in the National League of Women Lawyers and the women’s suffrage movement. She even chaired the Iowa Women’s Suffrage convention in 1870 with Susan B. Anthony. She died before the movement achieved the momentous passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. However, her legacy was honored in the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. The most prestigious award granted by the National Association of Women Lawyers was named after Arabella Mansfield for outstanding women lawyers.