NATIONAL WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY
The United States Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women full and equal voting rights on this day in 1920. Every year on August 26, we commemorate this right with National Women’s Equality Day.
Birth of a Movement
While in London at the World Anti-Slavery Convention 1840, several women were denied access to the convention floor planting the seeds for a women’s rights movement. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Staton, along with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt, set in motion plans for the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Held at Wesleyan Chapel on July 19-20, 1848, the conference drew 200 women the first day. On the second day, the convention opened to men, and some did attend.
Resolved, that it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise. ~ 9th Resolution of the Seneca Falls Convention 1848
During the convention, leaders presented 12 resolutions. They enumerated in the rights that women should be equal to men socially, economically, legally and representatively. Of the resolutions, all but the 9th were approved unanimously. The right to vote created concern. Many women felt it would cause large numbers of their backers to withdraw their support. However, after much debate and the support of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the 9th resolution also passed.
The Right to Vote
Woman’s suffrage began in earnest in the United States then. Another advocate, Susan B. Anthony, joined Stanton in 1869 to create the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Through nearly ten years of persistence and lobbying, the NWSA introduced an amendment in 1878. Despite years of debate and finally to the floor of Congress in 1886, only to be defeated.
When is Equal Pay Day?
Ultimately, it would take another 34 years before a new amendment made it to Congress. For several years, advocates continued passing the batons. New states entered the union. Their constitutions included rights for women that states before them never had – the right to vote. Civil disobedience ensued. Eventually, with women gaining equality, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WomensEqualityDay
Learn more about the women’s civil rights movement and the 19th amendment. Read about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Delve further into the history and learn about the efforts of advocates in your home state. Study Lucy Stone, Carrie Chapman Catt, or Alice Paul. We’ve done some of the work for you. Read about these 5 Notable Leaders in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Use #WomensEqualityDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL WOMENS EQUALITY DAY HISTORY
On July 30, 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) presented a bill designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. That year, rallies, celebrations and political debate filled the country on August 26th. By 1973, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring the day to be observed on August 26th of each year. Every year since each president declares this day as Women’s Equality Day commemorating the certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
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