Women’s Equality Day – August 26

by on August 26, 2016 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, History, Organizing, Politics, Women's Rights

womens Equality Day aug 26 imageFrom National Women’s History Project

At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.


Women’s Equality Day: A Short History
August 26

By Jone Johnson Lewis / Women’s History Expert

August 26 of each year is designated in the United States as Women’s Equality Day. Instituted by Rep. Bella Abzug and first established in 1971, the date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote on the same basis as men.  (Many women still had to fight for the right to vote when they belonged to other groups that had barriers to voting: people of color, for instance.)

Less well known is that the day commemorates the 1970 Women’s Strike for Equality, held on August 26 on the 50th anniversary of the passage of woman suffrage.

The first public body to call for the right of women to vote was the Seneca Falls convention for women’s rights, at which the resolution on the right to vote was more controversial than other resolutions for equal rights.

The first petition for universal suffrage was sent to Congress in 1866.

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was sent to the states for ratification on June 4, 1919, when the Senate endorsed the Amendment.  The passage by the states proceeded quickly, and Tennessee passed the ratification proposal in their legislature on August 18, 1920. After turning back an attempt to reverse the vote, Tennessee notified the federal government of the ratification, and on August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to was certified as ratified.

In the 1970s, with the so-called second wave of feminism, August 26 again became an important date.  In 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, the National Organization for Women organized the Women’s Strike for Equality, asking women to stop working for a day to highlight inequalities in pay and education, and the need for more child care centers.

Women took part in events in 90 cities.  Fifty thousand people marched in New York City, and some women took over the Statue of Liberty.

To commemorate the voting rights victory, and to rededicate to winning more demands for women’s equality, member of Congress Bella Abzug of New York introduced a bill to establish Women’s Equality Day on August 26, commending and supporting those who continued to work for equality.

The bill calls for an annual presidential proclamation of Women’s Equality Day.

For more, go here.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

retired botanist August 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm

While its nice to have a day proclaimed (thanks Rep. Abzug), I’d so much rather have an amendment ratified. Hard to believe that here we are in 2016, 34 some-odd years after the ERA amendment passed the Senate and House, and women still do not have equal rights under the Constitution. We have a woman running for President, but we still don’t have equal pay. Really, what’s it going to take?

Thanks for printing the article-


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