Women's Equality Day

Date: All day Sat, Aug 26, 2023

Category: Holidays and Observances

The 19th amendment grants women the right to vote for the first time and was a result of the women's suffrage movement in the country.

A 40-Year Journey

The amendment, which was and still remains a major landmark in the women's rights movement in the United States, was first introduced in the Congress in 1878 by California Senator Aaron A. Sargent on the behest of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Because of this, the first version of the amendment is often called the Anthony Amendment, after Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for voting in the Presidential elections in 1872.

Arrested for Voting

The journey to gain the right to vote for women was a long one – voting rights had been extended to all male citizens of the United States by the 14th Amendment in 1868. The 15th Amendment, which was passed in 1870, prohibited the central or any state government from denying an American citizen the right to vote based on their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Despite this, women were not allowed to vote in most states and were often arrested when they tried to cast their ballots during elections under the two amendments.

Widespread Opposition

Opposition to voting by women was widespread and the amendment did not get to the see the light of the day again until 1914 when it was once gain brought up in the US congress. In May 1919, two-thirds of the Congress voted in favor of the amendment and it was sent to the states for ratification.

While there are still many issues that the women's rights movement has been working and fighting for, the amendment ensured that women could make their voices heard and affect policy change.

Celebrating Equality

Women's Equality Day was first celebrated in 1971 after the Congress passed a resolution to mark the occasion annually. The proposal to do so was made by Representative and feminist Bella Abzug. The purpose behind the creation of this holiday was to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality in society and to recognize the hard work and sacrifices made by the pioneers in the suffrage movement.

Women's rights organizations and groups that work in the area of voting rights celebrate this day by holding seminars and workshops that address issues and problems currently faced by women in the country. Schools and educators take the day as an opportunity to educate students of the long and often difficult journey of the women's rights movement to gain basic human rights.

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