The right to vote, the cornerstone of democracy, belongs to all citizens — but this wasn’t always the case. Until recently, most countries denied voting rights to half of their population: women.
To claim their voice, women began agitating for the right to vote in the early 19th century. In the U.S., decisions about who could vote were left up to the states. The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, ensures voting rights for everyone regardless of gender.
Today, Women’s Equality Day celebrates the achievements of women’s rights activists and reminds us of the unique daily struggles that women face.
Women’s Equality Day commemorates 26th August 1920 when votes to women officially became part of the US constitution. This day marks a turning point in the history of the struggle for equal treatment of women and women’s rights.
Learn about Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day has been designed to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment being adopted in the 1920s in the United States. This act stopped the federal government and states from preventing people the right to vote based on their sex.
History of Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day has been celebrated for many years. It was direst celebrated in 1973. Since then, the United States President has proclaimed the date. The date has been selected to commemorate the day in the 1920s when Bainbridge Colby, who was the Secretary of State at the time, signed the proclamation that gave women in the United States the constitutional right to vote.
In 1920, the day stood for the result of 72 years of campaigning by a huge civil rights movement for women. Prior to movements like these, even respected thinkers such as Rousseau and Kant believed that woman’s inferior status in society was completely logical and reasonable; women were ‘beautiful’ and ‘not fit for serious employment’.
Over the last century, great women have proved these views wrong as the world has witnessed just what women are capable of achieving, from the likes of Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt fighting for civil rights and equality to great scientists such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Jane Goodall. The last century has shown more than ever what both women and men are capable of achieving, given the opportunity.
Today, women’s equality has grown to mean much more than just sharing the right to the vote. Organisations such as Equality Now and Womankind Worldwide continue to work to provide women across the globe with equal opportunities to education and employment, pushing against suppression and violence towards women and against the discrimination and stereotyping which still occur in every society.
Every year, the president reads a proclamation, noting the amazing work of trailblazers in this movement. In 2016, President Barack Obama said the following:
“Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of this hard-won achievement and pay tribute to the trailblazers and suffragists who moved us closer to a more just and prosperous future, we resolve to protect this constitutional right and pledge to continue fighting for equality for women and girls”.
How to celebrate Women’s Equality Day
There are a number of different ways that you can celebrate Women’s Equality Day. One of the best things to do on this date is to pay tribute to the amazing females that have made a massive difference in the movement. Spend some time doing research online to educate yourself further on the matter. You can spread information with your friends, family members, and followers online so that you can increase awareness amongst all of your loved ones.
Another way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day is to register to vote if you have not already. Exercising your constitutional protected right to vote is the best thing you can do on this date. Local and state elections happen on a yearly basis, so you need to make sure your registration is current. You can use the Vote.Gov website to discover how to register based on the state you are located in.
You can also learn everything you need to know about how to vote. You will need to keep your voter registration updated if you have moved to another state since you last voted. You should also use this as an opportunity to make sure that all of your loved ones have registered to vote as well. You can post details on your social media so that everyone knows how to vote and they feel encouraged to do so.
It is also a good idea to spend some time learning about female leaders of the past and the present. A wise place to start is with Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They were the two women who organized the first female rights convention. This took place in July of 1848 in the Seneca Falls area of New York. At the convention, the Declaration of Sentiments was adopted by the delegates, as well as a number of resolutions, one of which called for women’s right to vote. There are a number of other influential females that we would recommend learning more about. This includes Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone, who were both the founders of the American Woman Suffrage Association.
Another great way to spend Women’s Equality Day is by visiting a women’s museum. If you take a look online, you are probably going to be surprised by the number of women’s museums that there are around the world. After all, women have had a long fight on their hands in order to be considered equal, and so there are a number of museums that are dedicated to showing the story of these movements. You can do a quick search online to see if there are any museums in your local area. Some may even have special exhibitions going on for this date.
Finally, if you run your own business, you should use this day as an opportunity to make sure that you can confidently say your business is one that has achieved equality across the board. Is there a gender pay gap at your business? If so, strategize on how you can change this. We know it may not be feasible for you to increase everyone’s wages overnight, but you can start formulating a plan to make sure that women are considered equal to men in your workplace. This not only relates to the money they receive, but also the opportunities that come their way as well.
History of Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day, celebrated every August 26, commemorates the passage of women’s suffrage in the U.S. and reminds us of the hurdles overcome by the heroic women who faced violence and discrimination to propel the women’s movement forward.
In the early 19th century, American women, who generally couldn’t inherit property and made half of a man’s wages in any available jobs, began organizing to demand political rights and representation.
By the early 1900s, several countries including Finland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom had legalized voting for women as the movement continued to sweep across the world. In the U.S., the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was first introduced in 1878, but it failed to gain traction. It wasn’t until women’s involvement in the World War I effort made their contributions painfully obvious that women’s suffrage finally gained enough support. Women’s rights groups pointed out the hypocrisy of fighting for democracy in Europe while denying it to half of American citizens at home.
Because a Constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of the states, 36 of them had to ratify the 19th before its passage. The deciding vote in the Tennessee legislature came from Harry T. Burn, a young state representative whose mother’s plea to support the amendment became a deciding factor in his vote (which he switched at the last minute).
Women aren’t done fighting for equal rights. Today, the wage gap between men and women still impacts women’s economic power, and gender-based discrimination still plagues workplaces and business transactions.
To remind us of the struggles of the past, present, and future, Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971.