Women’s Equality Day: A Look At Its History, Obama’s Thoughts On Its Present

Governor Edwin P. Morrow signing the 19th Amendment Jan 1920
EducationHistoryPoliticsWomen's Rights 3 Comments

It’s 2014 and although women have made enormous strides in achieving equality, the fight is certainly not over. As a reminder of those pioneers who came before us and fought for women’s rights against the greatest odds and adversaries, today, August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day, a national designation established in 1971 to commemorate the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the fundamental right to vote.

The 19th Amendment was drafted by woman suffrage movement pioneers Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It was first introduced to Congress in January 1878 by California Senator Aaron Sargent, who had befriended Anthony in 1872 and was dedicated to her cause. However, it took decades to accomplish their goal. The proposed amendment was considered a radical change to the Constitution and remained a controversial issue at both the national and state level, taking over 40 years of protests, petitions and arrests until it was finally passed in 1920.

In 1970, first-time Congresswoman, social activist and champion of women’s rights, Bella Abzug, introduced a Joint Resolution of Congress designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. It passed in 1971.

The resolution included a specific request for an annual Presidential proclamation commemorating the 19th Amendment. Since its inception, every President has honored this request, each in their own words, recognizing the long and continued struggle for women’s equality.

“When women are given the opportunity to succeed, they do.” – President Barack Obama

In President Barack Obama’s 2014 proclamation, issued today, he said, “On the anniversary of this civil rights milestone, we honor the character and perseverance of America’s women and all those who work to make the same rights and opportunities possible for our daughters and sons.”

He added, “When women are given the opportunity to succeed, they do. Younger women graduate college at higher rates than men and are more likely to hold a graduate school degree. They are nearly half our workforce, and increasingly they are the primary breadwinner for families. But too often, the women and girls who lift up our Nation achieve extraordinary success only after overcoming the legacy of unequal treatment.”

The President then concluded with this, “In the 21st century, a mother should be able to raise her daughter and be her role model – showing her that with hard work, there are no limits to what she can accomplish. On Women’s Equality Day, we continue the righteous work of building a society where women thrive, where every door is open to them, and their every dream can be realized.”

  • Thia

    I for one have been very complacent in regard to politics, but you can count on it that I will be participating this time around.

  • Judith

    Voting always matters. Please get involved, it may save your life or the lives of one you love. Voting means giving you a choice. Be pro-active and we won’t need a special day to claim our place in society.

  • Mona

    For those women who do not think their vote will count, they are wrong. Every vote counts. Some elections are won by the smallest of margins. If you want your candidate to win, then you must definitely vote. By voting, we not only make our choice heard, but we also honor those women who fought so hard so many years ago to give us this right.