Toolkit: Hosting a Coffee Chat on Women’s Suffrage

This year, UNA-USA’s UNA Women Affinity Group is taking part in the national celebration of the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, which marks 100 years of women’s suffrage in the United States. As a community of United Nations advocates, it is our responsibility to support the work of the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals in our local communities.

UNA-USA needs your help to promote SDG 5, Gender Equality, among your members and in your community. We are encouraging chapters to host a Coffee Chat with the theme #EqualEverywhere: Reflections on the History of the Women’s Right to Vote over the Century. The goal is to start a conversation with a current or former local representative to discuss what progress has been made to advance gender equality and reflect on what further change needs to occur.

This toolkit will provide you the guidance and resources you need to plan your own virtual Coffee Chat. You will find email templates, social media graphics, discussion topics, and general tips for sponsoring a Coffee Chat on women’s suffrage in your area.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to engage and empower women and girls in your community to be active in the political process. Remember, UN advocacy starts locally and will ripple into global impacts for positive change.


Planning a successful coffee chat on Women’s Suffrage

Use this step by step plan as a to-do list for your coffee chat.


General guidance

Choose a date, time and virtual platform to host your virtual coffee chat. Aim to schedule your coffee chat close to August 18, 2020, the official anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Research and contact 1-2 guest speakers to participate in your coffee chat. Refrain from inviting 3 or more guest speakers, as this will shift your coffee chat to become more of a panel than a personal, intimate discussion.

Confirm your guest speaker(s) and begin promoting your coffee chat to your chapter. Keep in mind the theme of Equal Everywhere: Reflections on the History of the Women’s Right to Vote over the Century. Aim to confirm a guest speaker based in your local community or area.

Before your coffee chat, review the discussion points in preparation for your coffee chat discussion. Designate one chapter leader or member to serve as the moderator with your guest speaker. (See suggested discussion points below.)


Structuring the conversation

  • Begin with brief introductions and have your guest speaker(s) discuss their background and work. Then, have your moderator open up a time for participants to ask questions and dialogue. If your group is small enough and time permits, have every participant introduce themselves.
  • Next, dive into the main discussion points, having your guest speaker(s) share their thoughts first, then inviting participants to share their thoughts and pose questions to the guest speaker(s) and/or the entire group.
  • During your coffee chat, make sure to prompt the other participants to share their responses to the discussion topics and pose questions to the moderator. This will ensure your coffee chat is a collaborative discussion rather than a formal panel event.


Discussion talking points

Center the discussion around women’s suffrage, voter engagement and political representation within your local community or area. We encourage you to draft additional and more specific questions based on the suggested discussion topics below. Consider discussing subtopics or specific legislation that are relevant to your community.  

  • “As the movement became more conservative, racism became part of the policy.” –Sally Wagner, Historian and Author
    • The inclusivity (and exclusivity) of the 19th Amendment: How women of color still had to continue the fight after the 19th Amendment was ratified
  • Importance of empowering women to be active voters 
  • How to encourage more women to vote in the local community 
  • Importance of having more women elected into office 
  • How to advocate for current/running women representatives in the local community, especially women with intersectional minority identities (Black women, Queer women, disabled women, etc.) 
  • What steps the community can take to be #EqualEverywhere
  • What steps individuals can take to promote #EqualEverywhere


Suggestions to continue the momentum

  • After your coffee chat, be sure to send your guest speaker(s) a thank you email.
  • If you recorded your coffee chat, post it to your chapter’s website so non-participants can listen to the discussion.
  • Consider writing a blog post/social media post/newsletter entry to summarize the main discussion takeaways.


Ideas for guest speakers

Aim to find a guest speaker who represents your local community, works in your local community, or is well-informed on the current situations of your local community:

  • Current/former local representative
  • Current/former staff member from local representative’s office
  • Representative from a local/state branch or chapter of an organization that encourages the public to vote (Example: League of Women Voters, All in Campus Democracy Challenge, Rock the Vote, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, FairVote, American Civil Liberties Union, etc.)


Announcement template

Use this as an email message, an event description for your chapter website, and/or an announcement for your social media accounts. Feel free to edit as you see fit.

On August 18, 1920, women gained the Constitutional right to vote after a century-long fight for representation. This year, we will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, honoring the progress that has been made to advance gender equality and reflecting on what further change needs to occur.

[Insert Chapter Name] will host a Coffee Chat with [Insert Speaker(s) Name and title if relevant] on [Insert Date and Time] to discuss women’s empowerment and representation in politics. Join us on [name of virtual platform, i.e. Zoom] as we focus on the demand for women to be equally represented in politics, and the need for all young women to exercise their right to vote.

Register here [insert registration link] for the opportunity to share your thoughts on the importance of gender equality in politics.


Promotional materials

If you wish to promote your coffee chat beyond an email announcement or update on your website, use these templates and graphics. Feel free to edit as you see fit.

Sample language for Facebook/Instagram:

[UNA Chapter Name] is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment for a Women’s Suffrage and Political Representation Coffee Chat with [guest speaker name(s) or social media handles]. Join us on [date, time, and platform] to discuss the importance of empowering women to vote and be active in politics. Register here [insert registration link]

Sample language for Twitter: 

[UNA Chapter Name] is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the #19thAmendment in Coffee Chat with [guest speaker name(s) or social media handles]. Join us on [date, time, and platform] to discuss the importance of empowering women to vote and be active in politics. Register here [insert registration link]


Social media

Do you know the local women of color in your community that fought for women’s right to vote? Honor them by including their names on your social media and your website in commemoration of the 19th Amendment’s Centennial! Be sure to use the hashtag #EqualEverywhere!

GRAPHICS: To educate your social media audience and generate interest around the event, consider incorporating these fact graphics into your social media posts.


Online Resources about the 19th Amendment

  • Article: Brief Overview of 19th Amendment   
  • Article: Common and Debated Interpretations of the 19th Amendment 
  • Article: Women’s suffrage myths and the lesser known women suffragists
  • Timeline: Women’s Suffrage 
  • Article: African American Women Leaders in the Suffrage Movement
  • Resource Center: 19th Amendment Centennial   
  • Archives Collection: 19th Amendment Centennial 
  • Interviews: Women Remember the Suffrage Movement 
  • Documentary: Vel Philips, the first woman and African American elected to state office 
  • Video: Black Women and the Suffrage Movement
  • Video Lecture: Before and After Women’s Suffrage 
  • Short Video: History of Women’s Suffrage
  • Resource Center: Women’s Political Participation Database
  • Fact Sheet: Women’s Political Participation


Prominent African American Suffragists:

  • Mary Church Terrell (1864-1954)
  • Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
    • In 1851, she gave her famous “Ain’t I A Woman” speech at a Women’s Rights Conference in Akron, Ohio and this is considered an important moment in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
  • Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
    • After the Civil War, Harriet Tubman joined Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Susan B. Anthony for Women’s Suffrage.
  • Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
    • Journalist, Anti-Lynching, Civil Rights, and Women’s Suffrage Activist.
  • Augusta T. Chissell (1880-1973)
    • Served as a grassroots Suffragist with a deep history and legacy in Maryland.
    • Margaret Gregory Hawkins and Augusta T. Chissell lived next door to each other in Maryland and held women’s suffrage social clubs for women of color because the larger movement excluded women of color.