August 26th: National Women’s Equality Day

National Women’s Equality Day: 

In 1971, Representative Bella Abzug championed a bill in the U.S. Congress that designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. The bill states that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of the day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote.”

You may be asking why if the 19th amendment gave the right to vote on the 18th of August, then why is Women’s Equality Day on the 26th? Well, the answer is simple, even when a constitutional amendment has been ratified, it is not made official until it has been certified by the correct government official. In 1920, that official was the U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. On August 26, 1920, Colby signed a proclamation behind closed doors at 8 a.m. at his own house in Washington, D.C, ending a struggle for the vote that started a century earlier.

By the middle of 1920, 35 states had voted to ratify the amendment. Still, four other states (Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina, and Florida) refused to consider the resolution for various reasons, while the remaining states had rejected the amendment altogether.

Why is it Important to celebrate Women’s Equality Day?

  • The suffrage movement in the 1920s was only successful due to the hard-working women (and men) that fought for active change.
  • Activists like Susan B. Anthony, who traveled around the country fighting for rights while giving speeches, took big risks using their voices to fight for change.
  • Equality is not just a female issue, it’s a social and economic imperative issue that can affect everyone.
  • For the Suffragists, the change didn’t happen overnight, it took decades for any significant change to occur.
  • But even today in 2022, we still have so far to go with women’s rights.
  • With Roe vs. Wade being overturned just last month (Roe vs. Wade is the right to an abortion,) with the gender wage gap, and no mandatory paid maternity leave, things are still not as equal as they could and should be.
  • Important work keeps needing to happen in order for things to get better for women’s rights. It’s important to support all the women in your lives and remind them how important they are no matter what.