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Girl Scouts Give Boost to Push for Monument to Women in Central Park

By Emily Frost | October 3, 2016 7:27am
 Troop 3484 is raising money towards the construction of a statue to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. 
Girl Scouts Work to Fund Monument to Women
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A troop of Girl Scouts is pushing to make "herstory" by raising funds for the first monument to women in Central Park.

Troop 3484, made up of 10 girls attending The Dalton School, is gathering funds for a monument to suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The monument would sit on the southwest corner of the West 77th Street entrance to Central Park, the first tribute to a non-fictional woman in the park's history.

"Where are the women?" the troop of fifth-graders chanted as they paraded down Central Park West last week, holding posters and wearing sunflower chains in their hair, a symbol from the 1860s women's suffrage movement. 

Though there are 22 statues of historical male figures in the 843-acre park, there are none of real-life women, said Coline Jenkins, 64, Stanton's great-granddaughter, who met with Troop 3484 at the New-York Historical Society across from the monument site last week.

The park does depict women in statues of characters like Alice in Wonderland and Mother Goose, but none exist paying tribute to nonfictional women. 

"The problem is we have to remind everybody that women are important too," she told the girls.

Jenkins has made the monument her passion project, pushing Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to agree to remedy the inequity, she said.

When he agreed to the idea back in the fall of 2014, "I was crying, laughing. It was like a miracle," she said.

Since then, more details of the plan have been ironed out. The nonprofit that's raising money to install and maintain the monument, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, Inc., has raised about $170,000 of the $400,000 to $600,000 that's needed, Jenkins explained. 

All of the funding is coming from private donations, she noted. 

Four artists have been selected to build smaller models of the monument, which will be displayed at the New-York Historical Society, and a jury will then select the final design.

The scouts now believe they can make a dent in the fund's deficit.

Last year the troop donated $4,400 in profits from their Girl Scout Cookie sales to the Mayor's Office of Veterans' Services for homeless vets. They're hoping to raise at least that much for the statue fund, said troop co-leader Bridget Small. 

Their strategy is to head out to the southwest corner of Central Park West and West 77th Street with their posters and donation jars once a month on Thursdays through the fall, said troop co-leader Gina Sohn.

Once Girl Scout Cookie season launches around mid-October, they'll also try to draw in passersby with the popular treats and put that money toward the fund as well, she said. 

"They've really got great passion," Sohn said of the girls.

Sohn's daughter Pippa, 10, is part of the troop and was eager to get the fundraising kicked off. She and the other scouts weren't shy about running up to pedestrians walking along Central Park West to make their pitch.

"I'm really, really disappointed that no one has ever done anything about this," Pippa said. "I'm so proud of our Girl Scout troop, and we're going to make a difference."

In addition to giving the back story of the fight for the Central Park monument, Jenkins shared a short history lesson with the girls. It wasn't that long ago that women were illiterate, couldn't own property and couldn't vote, she explained.

Part of the lesson also touched on the importance of creating strong messages and imagery in any campaign. Jenkins wore the traditional suffragette sash and showed off a drawing of Rosie the Riveter as examples.

But most importantly, she said, "the point is never give up, failure is impossible."