Women’s Equality Day 2006 – 2008

From 2008: 

Today is Women’s Equality Day!

The California Commission on the Status of Women joins the Nation in celebrating the 88th Anniversary of Women’s Equality Day. Each year Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on August 26th to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Congress designated this date in 1971 to honor women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Spearheading the effort was U.S. Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY).

Women winning the right to vote 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. In addition to celebrating the voting rights of American women, Women’s Equality Day also symbolizes the continued fight for equality, justice, peace, and development for women from various nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, religions, economic and political backgrounds.

The Commission on the Status of Women encourages you to celebrate and reaffirm women’s right to vote –
and honor the heroic suffrage movement that won that right for all women –  
by voting  in November!

If you are not registered to vote – visit the Secretary of State’s office at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm and register today!

Party Celebrate Women’s Equality Day, on August 26 every year! (wearGirlpurple- the traditional and contemporary color that represents women empowerment!) 

From 2006 & 2007:

From CreativeFolk.com, 8/24/07:

A Brief History of the Suffrage Movement and Women’s Equality Day

On July 13, 1848, five women met for tea in upstate New York. Having commiserated about the lot of women in American society, they did something brash and wonderful…they sent off a notice to the local newspaper announcing “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious conditions and rights of woman” to be held just six days later in Seneca Falls.

The Women’s Rights Movement was born!

Perhaps inspired by the sovereignty of Iroquois women, (See Sally Roesch Wagner) convention participants drafted a Declaration of Sentiments which began: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men and women are created equal…” One of the resolutions called for universal women’s suffrage. One hundred women and men from all walks of life signed that Declaration. Only one, nineteen-year-old Charlotte Woodward, lived to see women win the vote.

On August 26, 1920, after a 72-year struggle, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. was finally ratified, granting women the right to vote nationwide. The actual text:

Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

In 1971, Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day, as a reminder of women’s continuing efforts for equality.

Of course, the struggle for women’s rights didn’t end in 1920. To read more about the women’s movement in contemporary times, I recommend “The Women’s Rights Movement: Where It’s Been, Where It’s At,” a talk by Sonia Pressman Fuentes.

From www.nwhp.org, 8/24/07:

What is Women’s Equality Day?

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 passage 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 passage 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.

From Pink Magazine- Aug/Sept 2006:

Celebrate the right to vote on August 26, the day the 19th Amendment, which gave women this right, passed in 1920.  “Many people are shocked to learn that women were beaten or imprisoned for the right to vote,” says Molly Murphy MacGregor, executive director of the National Women’s History Project.  “It took 72 years to accomplish this.  Since votes for women weren’t proposed until 1848 at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention, that’s how long it took to change the hearts and minds of people.”

4 Ways You Can Celebrate:
1.  Rent the movie Iron Jawed Angels, the story of suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, starring Hillary Swank.
2.  Visit the National Women’s History Project website.
3.  Register to vote!
4.  Give out Voting Registration Forms (available at www.lwv.org) on August 26- Women’s Equality Day.
5.  From WS blog editor: Contact your U.S. Representatives, and ask them to co-sponsor the Women’s Equality Act, The Paycheck Fairness Act, and The Fair Pay Act.
–Kathryn Whitbourne
About Alice Paul
Alice Paul, who formed the National Women’s Party, relentlessly picketed the White House during WW1, becoming one of the nation’s first key women in politics.  Arrested and placed in solitary confinement, she began a hunger strike and was later taken to the prison hospital, then put in a psychiatric ward and forced-fed.
Responding to public outcry about the prison abuse of suffragists, President Woodrow Wilson finally announced his support for a suffrage amendment, which became law in the summer of 1920.  Paul later wrote the first draft of the Equal Rights Amendment and continued campaigning for women’s rights.
–Allison Sparks

Dailypress.com, 8/26/07:

Decades later, we resume the debate on equality

August 25, 2007

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. Most Americans don’t even know what it is, and aside from commemorations by a few female leaders on Capitol Hill, it is hardly noticed. But it marks one of the most important days of the last century for women — the day the final state ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 — and women were granted the vote.

That year also marked what suffragists of the time thought would soon be another constitutional milestone, the Equal Rights Amendment. With their newfound franchise, women believed they could convince legislators to put women on equal footing in the Constitution with men (white men from the beginning, black men since passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868). The ERA was penned by Alice Paul, the suffragist jailed for picketing the White House and nearly starved in Occoquan prison outside Washington.

But it was not to be. Here we are, 87 years later — a lifetime in anyone’s book — and women still haven’t achieved equal constitutional status. First introduced in Congress in 1923, the ERA was not passed and sent to the states for ratification until 1972, with an artificial time limit of only seven years for approval by the states. In that brief time it was ratified by 35 states, but was stopped three states short by millions of corporate dollars backing Phyllis Schlafly’s anti-woman storm troopers, who feared unisex toilets more than they valued freedom from discrimination.

Most U.S. citizens don’t remember that fight, and many believe the ERA was ratified. The reality is that the legal rights women currently enjoy are not rooted in the Constitution, but in a series of statutes like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, executive orders like affirmative action, and various rules interpreting laws such as Title IX, guaranteeing equal educational opportunity. Because we don’t have an ERA, depending on their origin, all of these can be revoked in the dead of night by any simple majority of Congress, bureaucrats in a hostile administration, or the president himself.

George W. Bush and company know this very well. They have been systematically eroding the gains women have made since they took office. They have weakened Title IX through rule changes.

A major one now allows schools to force girls, but not boys, to prove they are interested in participating in sports before they are given the chance to play, and so-called “separate but equal” single-sex public schools are allowed for the first time since 1972.

With the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the assaults on women’s employment rights and legal abortions have begun in earnest. Wasting no time, the Court has already upheld the first federal abortion ban since Roe v. Wade, and severely limited women’s right to sue in cases where they’ve experienced pay discrimination.

Recently renamed the Women’s Equality Amendment by its chief sponsor, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the ERA is the essence of brevity: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” That’s the whole thing. A simple concept that had the blessing of both political parties until the Republicans struck it from their platform in 1980 and the Democrats followed suit in 2004.

It’s high time the ERA was put back in the center of public debate, and this long election season is the perfect opportunity.

Office seekers not remembering that right to vote we’re celebrating on the 26th do so at their peril. Women are now the majority of the electorate, and can control any election. Close to 80 percent of the public, both female and male, favor an Equal Rights Amendment. Candidates of both parties for the Congress and the presidency ought to be listening.

Burk is the director for the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations in Washington D.C.

Copyright © 2007, Newport News, Va., Daily Press


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